The mission of the Math Working Group is to facilitate and promote
the use of the Web for mathematical and scientific communication. The
main purpose of the Working Group is to improve and extend the
functionality of the MathML 2.0
(Second Edition) Recommendation (W3C Recommendation, 21 October
2003) in light of several years of experience of large-scale deployment
by many individuals and organizations.
The Math Activity has a long and exemplary history at W3C. The
MathML 1.0 specification was the first XML application to achieve
Recommendation status after the publication of the XML Recommendation
in 1998. Similarly, a Math Working group was the first W3C group to
deploy a test suite, one of the first to release a schema, and the
first to recharter under the current W3C patent policy.
In 2004, after eight years of development of the MathML language
resulting in four versions of the MathML Recommendation, a consensus
emerged in the MathML community that a period of stability in the
Recommendation was necessary to allow large-scale adoption and
implementation of MathML. Consequently, for the last two years, the
Math Activity at W3C has been advanced by a Math Interest Group that
has closely monitored the usage of MathML and the issues that have
The Math Interest Group has witnessed the broad adoption of MathML
by such bodies as major scientific publishers, the patent offices of
USA and Russia, and other public and private specifications. MathML
has been implemented in major browsers (now available on all
contemporary platforms), office applications, and many other software
systems (see the MathML
software list). By examining the varied experiences of MathML
adopters and implementers, the Math Interest Group
identified a number of areas where improvement and extension of MathML
would significantly enhance its use and adoption. These include
better support for internationalization of mathematics, accessibility,
semantic encoding of mathematics, and precise control of rendering for
print publishing. In addition, closely related technologies, such as
Unicode, have continued to advance, and there is a need to update
MathML to reflect current standards. In the view of the Math Interest
Group, these issues can only be fully addressed by updating the MathML
Recommendation, and we are consequently requesting the chartering of a
new Math Working Group.
MathML 3.0 Recommendation
The present Math Interest Group has collected requests for new
functionality and reports of challenges that had to be overcome
from many individuals and organizations currently using MathML 2.0
(Second Edition) Recommendation. Consequently, the main task of
the Working Group is to produce a new MathML 3.0 Recommendation which
expands functionality in areas where strong interest has been
demonstrated, and ameliorates deficiencies in the
Work items for MathML 3.0 include:
- Extension of MathML to support elementary mathematical notations such as mixed numbers
or two-dimensional notations for addition, multiplication, and
long division. So far, layout of these notation has been achieved
using tables. The introduction of explicit markup for them will increase accessibility
- Extension of MathML to enhance support for online assessment,
particularly accessible assessment. Users of MathML include a large
number of educational institutions interested in long-term standards-based
encoding of mathematical content.
- Extension of presentation MathML via additional rendering constructs, non-textual
bi-directional rendering rules, and more powerful style selectors to better support
localizing MathML, particularly for language contexts using Arabic
scripts. A first step in this direction was the publication
of the W3C Interest Group Note Arabic mathematical notation
by the Mathematics Interest Group.
- Extension of MathML with enhanced support for equation labeling,
including automatic numbering, general label placement and style,
and resolution of references.
- Definition of a precise and standard mechanism for extending
content MathML, as well as refinement of current content MathML
semantics, e.g. to include the specification of branch cuts for
inverse trigonometrics functions over complex domains thereby
reducing ambiguity and thus potentially improving interoperability.
- Refinement of current presentation MathML constructs for precision layout in
high-resolution rendering contexts, including more general tabular
and/or vertical layout constructs.
- Investigation of canonicalization of presentation and content
MathML. Many processing and analysis tasks involving MathML are
simplified by identifying canonical representations for notations that might
be marked up in several ways.
- Updating MathML to reflect current versions of closely related
technologies such as Unicode, SVG, CDF, and others where specific
versions are referenced..
- Ensuring compatibility between the current version of MathML and
the Test Suite and Validation Services for MathML
provided at the W3C site.
- Ensuring ongoing compatibility between MathML and
new and evolving XML-related specifications at W3C and outside of it.
The development of a MathML 3.0 Recommendation requires updates to
version-dependent resources such as the MathML Test Suite, as well as ongoing
maintenance of version-independent resources such as public Web pages
and mailing lists. These tasks include:
- Maintenance of expository and tutorial resources aimed at
encouraging development of MathML-aware software, such as
are visual and audio browsers, translators from older encodings
(such as TEX and ISO 12083), validation tools and
editors. These resources include the public W3C Math Web site, and the public
- Continued monitoring of browser support for MathML, and
maintenance of aids such as XSLT and CSS stylesheets and server
- Providing a forum for communities of practice, and a process
through which adopters of MathML can coordinate and reconcile
differing interpretations of the MathML specification.
- Investigation of a new automated rendering validation service.
- Investigation of applicability of new technologies for improving
client-side support of MathML.
- Investigation of non-XML syntax for entering MathML and other
technical projects as appropriate aimed at improving math support
in important electronic communication technologies, such as
blog postings (example)
and wikis (example).
The criteria for success for the Math Working Group are:
- MathML 3.0 becomes a W3C Recommendation.
- Compatibility of the Test Suite and Validation Services for MathML
provided at the W3C site with MathML 3.0 is ensured.
- Continued success of the W3C
Math Web site and www-math
mailing list as centers for information on the use and deployment of
- Continued full compatibility of MathML with relevant
W3C specifications, and also non-W3C specifications (such as OpenMath.)
- Expansion of acceptance and use of MathML as measured by adoption
in availability of MathML content on the Web, and back end use in
large-scale publishing workflows.
This Working Group commences in March 2006 and is scheduled to
terminate in March 2016. [Duration extended in March 2012, again in March 2013 and again in March 2014.]
- The Math Working Group will coordinate its work at a high level
with other Groups primarily through
participation in the Hypertext Coordination Group where
it is represented by its chair(s).
Coordination Group (XML Core, XML Query, XML Schema, XSL,
XML Binary Characterization)
- The Math Working Group will work with the XML Coordination Group to
ensure XML issues of wider import are resolved in generic ways, as
well as to communicate requirements arising from MathML to future
XML activity, and to discover likely impacts on MathML due to
ongoing work on key XML technologies.
- XSL Working Group
- The Math Working Group will work with the XSL Working Group to
expand the usefulness of MathML for high-quality printing and
typesetting via XSL-FO, and via the use of XSLT to target other
- WebAPI and
One of the area where MathML was very quickly put to use is rich clients such as
applets or other forms of client-executables. The Math Working Group will coordinate
with the emerging standardization taking place under these working groups
so as to ensure ongoing compatibility.
- WAI Technical Activity
- The use of MathML to ensure accessibility is a very active area. There are
currently a number of projects working on non-visual
renderers for MathML. The Math Working Group will coordinate with WAI on
efforts to expand the usefulness of MathML for accessibility, as
well as ongoing efforts to incorporate MathML into other
accessibility initiatives such as DAISY and PDF/UA.
- CSS Working Group
- Cascading Style Sheets are used to enhance the presentation of documents
without obfuscating the semantic content by contaminating the markup.
The Math Working Group will continue to coordinate with the CSS Working
Group to assure the compatibility of CSS and MathML,
and will explore the possibilities of leveraging CSS to render MathML.
- Multimodal Interaction Working
- Multimodal input of mathematics for mobile devices is an active
area of research, particularly handwriting recognition. Similarly,
multimodal interaction with MathML-aware software is important for
accessibility. The Math Working Group will coordinate with the Multimodal
Interaction WG on issues and requirements specific to mathematics in
- Many users of MathML are interested in using SVG to produce
high-quality output, both of equations, and derived scientific
graphics such as figures and graphs. The Math Working Group will
coordinate with the SVG WG on issues and requirements that arise
in such contexts.
- MathML is typically used in conjunction with other markup
languages, and thus MathML is intimately concerned with issues of
compound document formats, both at the syntactic and
implementation levels. The Math Working Group will continue to coordinate
with the CDF WG on issues and requirements for effective use of
MathML in compound documents
- Semantic Web
- There is a natural affinity between the first order predicate
logic constructs in MathML and relational assertions
of interest to the Semantic Web activity. The Math Working Group will
coordinate with the Working Groups of the Semantic Web activity to
explore possible synergies and complementarity between the two.
- I18N Working
- Mathematics is an international language, and MathML is
currently used in documents in a wide assortment of natural
languages. A number of issues with internationalization have been
identified, and addressing them is a major goal of the proposed
MathML 3.0 specification. The Math Working Group will coordinate closely
with the I18N working groups to ensure that solutions for math
internationalizations are in harmony with the broader W3C effort
in this area.
The Math Activity coordinates its work with other groups or
organizations insofar as they may be directly concerned with
mathematics on the Web, or as their activities may have a
direct impact on the usefulness of MathML.
Unicode Consortium and ISO WG2
- The Unicode Consortium and ISO WG2 have already been
very responsive to the needs of mathematics on the Web,
and additions (in fact thousands of character codes in Unicode
3.1 ad 3.2) have been made to Unicode and ISO 10646 for the
benefit of scientific document preparation. Coordination with
these groups will continue.
- The OpenMath community, based around the OpenMath
Society, and its contracts under the European
Community projects contributed to the development of MathML
2.0. Contact with this community will continue and
closer matches between OpenMath and MathML-content symbols
will be considered for inclusion in respective specifications.
- The TEX Community
- The previously dominant composition system in the
academic community has been TEX. In fact TEX can work
well with MathML, either as an input syntax which is
widely known, or as a mathematical composition engine
with which much experience has been gathered. The TEX
Users Group and the LATEX3 project has been kept informed
of progress on the MathML front. Fonts from the TEX
community may be helpful in rendering MathML in
browsers. Projects for the conversion of legacy TEX
material to MathML have already been started, but are
not yet of `production quality'.
- The DAISY Consortium maintains the DAISY/NISO Standard (
ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2005) Specifications for the Digital Talking
Book. DAISY is in the process of adding a module for mathematics
based on MathML. A closely related standard based on DAISY is the
National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) an
accessibility format required of publishers of elementary and
secondary textbooks in the US beginning in 2007.
- IMS QTI
The Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) model is an
information model for the representation of questions, tests and their
corresponding results that is used by many institutions already and is
moving forward pushed by the IMS standardization
body. Its last version adopts
MathML 2 for embedding
mathematical expression into mathematical questions and tests. Members of
our group being strongly involved in its specification have already
provided advice and identified further needs for both specifications in
order for them to work well together
- The Numerical Mathematics Consortium
- The Numerical mathematics Consortium is a newly formed organization
which seeks to standardize a core set of mathematical functions
applicable to numerical algorithms, particularly those used in practical
science and engineering. They are considering the use of MathML and its
extension mechanisms to express their standards. This is an opportunity
to see the extensibility of MathML well used, and to find out if and how
extension mechanisms could usefully be adjusted to meet real needs.
Participation of each group in the other will ensure compatibility and
usage of the full expressivity of each standard.
- Other XML Standards Groups
- MathML is frequently incorporated into other XML languages
being standardized. Recent examples include S1000D or
or the Oasis Open Document Format for Office Applications.
The Math Working Group will provide advice to
such groups, listen to their needs, and evangelize the use of MathML to encode
mathematics in XML as appropriate.
Participation in the Math Working Group is subject to the general
requirements for participation in all W3C Working Groups set forth in
6.2.1 of the W3C Process Document. Math Working Group members are
expected to commit 15-30% of their working time, including
participation in regular phone conferences and face-to-face meetings.
The initial co-chairs of the Working Group are Patrick Ion and Robert Miner.
Since March 2012, the co-chairs are Patrick Ion and David Carlisle.
The initial Team Contact is Bert Bos. The total amount of
Team resources is expected to be .2 FTE.
Working Group phone conferences are held every other week. When necessary to
meet agreed-upon deadlines, additional phone conferences may be
Face-to-face meetings are two- to three-day sessions held
approximately twice per year. To maximize liaison between the
Working Group and relevant standards bodies and vendor organizations,
scheduled face-to-face meetings may be held in conjunction with major
industry events and standards meetings. All face-to-face meetings are
announced on the Math Working Group page.
The Math Working Group communicates via the archived member-only
mailing list. During development, all working documents are visible
to the W3C membership.
The archived mailing list email@example.com
is used for public discussion of mathematical markup and related
For dissemination, the Math Working Group also maintains a
Public web page
which has been widely used as a central information point
about MathML and mathematics on the web in general.
For internal coordination the group uses a
Group web page.
The proceedings of this Working Group are Member-confidential, subject
to exceptions made by the Chair with the Working Group's agreement.
In support of public accountability, the Working Group will
periodically make public a summary of all technical decisions made
since the last public summary, and the rationales for these
This Working Group operates under the W3C
Patent Policy (5 February 2004 Version).
To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue
Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on
a Royalty-Free basis.
Robert Miner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Patrick Ion <email@example.com>
Bert Bos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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