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The disappointment and embarrassment of MathML

From: Thomas Cool <   > 
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000 18:30:00 +0200
Date (revised): Sun, 16 Apr 2000 16:38:35 +0200

W3C is about to release MathML 2.0. This should have been a joyous occasion, but it appears to be a horror. They created a horrible way to do mathematics on the internet. It is Byzantinely complex, unintuitive, unesthetic, highly undocumented, it requires complex software support, etcetera. A quite perfect alternative already exists in Mathematica: simple, elegant, intuitive, highly documented etcetera - and users of Maple may think similarly about Maple. W3C is reinventing the wheel, making it square, and putting the horse behind the cart. Their talk about providing a ‘service to the scientific and educational community’ is pure nonsense, as they precisely do the opposite. The real reason why W3C developed MathML is (a) that they didn’t do their homework, (b) that they didn’t really deal with the makers of Mathematica (or Maple). We can only solve this situation by have a serious discussion of the copyright status of mathematics. A short run pragmatic solution is to use a and bracket in HTML (with possible other values, like Maple). This may be ‘expensive’ in the short run, but much cheaper and beneficial in the longer term. Update: This discussion now includes answers to reactions of others. Readers should keep in focus that this paper concludes to the proposal to the scientific community that we have a discussion on the question: Are we going to accept this gift from W3C, or is it something like the Trojan horse, that will actually destroy the intellectual freedom of mathematics ?