W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-math@w3.org > April 2016

Re: MathML is a failed web standard (or not?)

From: Peter Murray-Rust <pm286@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 2 Apr 2016 00:21:00 +0100
Message-ID: <CAD2k14Oi1=gVq4SsnnWv+mCob5+-QXOWN4+xGVeoHGUMApac+w@mail.gmail.com>
To: Paul Topping <pault@dessci.com>
Cc: "www-math@w3.org" <www-math@w3.org>
I write as a chemist who has tried to do the same thing with Chemistry
(CML, Chemical Markup Language). I have been inspired by what I see as the
success of MathML and do not regard it as a failure. I am particularly
interested in Content MathML as computable maths.

The reality seems to be that it takes a generation for many of these ideas
to be implemented. in 1998 SVG seemed to be the obvious way of doing
graphics, but after 5 years it looked close to death. After 15 years it's
become universal.

CML is used by a small number of enthusiasts. The chemical software
manufacturers don't care because they only care about the pharma industry
and instruments. So we strugle on with a number of ad hoc broken
representations of chemistry, which are still primarily graphical. There is
almost no chemistry for blind people.

The real problem is semantics. At the moment the world doesn't care. They
will have to in the future. IoT demands semantics. You cannot compute
pictures. Binding semantics to maths and chemistry is hard but it will have
to come. I'd guess that people will need semantic math in 5 years and
chemistry in 15.

If you let the world be driven by browser manufacturers and publishers you
will get a sighted-human vision of maths and science. The IoT won't need

It WILL need semantic maths.

On Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 11:10 PM, Paul Topping <pault@dessci.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> Peter Krautzberger of MathJax fame, recently posted this on his own blog:
> MathML is a failed web standard
> https://www.peterkrautzberger.org/0186/
> Obviously, he presents some challenges to the MathML standard and its
> community. I felt that I had to respond:
> Response to Peter Krautzberger's "MathML is a failed web standard"
> http://bit.ly/1ZLfCF8
> I hope this exchange prompts some serious dialog.
> Paul Topping
> Design Science, Inc.
> "How Science Communicates"
> Makers of MathType, MathFlow, MathPlayer, Equation Editor
> http://www.dessci.com

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
Received on Friday, 1 April 2016 23:21:28 UTC

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