A recent Wolfram discussion on mathematical syntax

Hi everyone,

Stephen Wolfram has released a public Q&A a couple of days ago
(November 3, 2021).
A part of it is dedicated to elaborating the Wolfram Language approach
to the presentation and content aspects of mathematical syntax.
For those with 90 free minutes, the full video covers various aspects
of the history of mathematics, standardization, typesetting, as well
as publication culture. As filtered through Wolfram's own

I will share timed links to excerpts I found relevant to our current
group work here.

1. His brief position statement on MathML and participating in the W3C
Math group:

2. Mini discussion on presentation vs content in math syntax:

The examples he gives (differential-d and sin^-1) are ones our group
has discussed on multiple occasions. The Wolfram Language appears to
have a large set of these primitives which Stephen refers to as
"standard form" input.  There is a second, freer, "traditional form"
of input, which they can not guarantee parsing into computable
Mathematica expressions, but can still typeset well.

He hits on some valid distinctions between math grammar and math
meaning, where grammatical consistency (e.g. operator precedence and
operator fixity - prefix, infix, postfix, fenced...) is the main
aspect one requires to successfully typeset an expression, without
ever knowing the specific mathematical concept intended by an author.
In a way, we have a kind of a technical consensus with the way we've
approached our "intent" attribute discussions.

3. Some helpful ballpack numbers were provided, on the distinct
mathematical primitives already supported by Wolfram Language:

7,000 primitive constructs, with an estimated 1,500 still needed to
fully "cover all of standard current pure mathematics". This may be a
helpful number to approximate a lower bound for content symbols used
in CAS practice today. Some of these are likely to also require our
"intent" values, when they have relevance for AT.


An obvious sentiment is: "it would have been great to have a Wolfram
Alpha representative participating in our group", but clearly the
history here makes that difficult.

Nevertheless, I am encouraged to have a very recent statement on the
Wolfram perspective on mathematical expressions, as their products are
clearly major potential adopters of any new MathML revisions.


Received on Sunday, 7 November 2021 15:55:35 UTC