W3C Issues MathML as a Proposed Recommendation

Voting Now Underway by W3C Member Organizations on MathML, the Mathematical Markup Language

For immediate release

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Contact America -- Eric Snow <esnow@webergroup.com>

Kathryn Esplin <kesplin@w3.org>

Contact Europe -- Ned Mitchell <ned@ala.com>
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Andrew Lloyd <allo@ala.com>
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Contact Asia -- Yumiko Matsubara <matsubara@w3.org>
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CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA -- 24 February, 1998 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today announced the release of Mathematical Markup Language (MathML), a markup language that facilitates the communication of mathematics on the World Wide Web, as a W3C Proposed Recommendation. By releasing MathML as a Proposed Recommendation, the W3C Math Working Group has determined that MathML  is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, is supported for industry-wide adoption, and is ready to enter the review and voting process by the W3C Membership.

The W3C Math Working Group, comprised of industry players as well as experts from the mathematical community, includes Adobe, American Mathematical Society, Design Science, Elsevier, The Geometry Center, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, INRIA, MINSE/Xerox PARC, SoftQuad, Stilo Technologies, University of Western Ontario, Waterloo Maple and Wolfram Research.


MathML is a low-level syntax for representing structured data such as mathematics in machine-to-machine communication over the Web, providing a much-needed solution for including mathematical expressions over the Web. In developing MathML, the goal was to define an XML-compliant markup language that describes the content and presentation of mathematical expressions.  This was achieved with MathML.

As an effective way to include mathematical expressions in Web documents, MathML gives control over the presentation and the meaning of such expressions. It does this by providing two sets of markup tags: one set presents the notation of mathematical data in markup format, and the other set relays the semantic meaning of mathematical expressions, enabling complex mathematical and scientific notation to be encoded in an explicit way.

As an XML application, MathML capitalizes on XML features and benefits from the wide support of XML. Unlike HTML which was intended as a markup language for use by people, MathML is intended to be used by machines, facilitating the searching and indexing of mathematical and scientific information. Software tools that work with MathML render MathML into formatted equations, enabling users to edit mathematical equations much as one might edit HTML text. Several early versions of such MathML tools already exist, and a number of others, both freely available software and commercial products, are under development.

W3C Process

Specifications developed within W3C working groups must be formally approved by the Membership. Consensus is reached after a specification has proceeded through the following review stages: Working Draft, Proposed Recommendation, and Recommendation.

Stable working drafts are submitted by working groups to the W3C Director for consideration as a Proposed Recommendation. Upon the Director's approval, the document becomes a "Proposed Recommendation", and is forwarded to the W3C Membership to vote on becoming an official W3C Recommendation.

The W3C Advisory Committee -- comprised of one official representative from each Member organization -- submits one of the following votes on the Proposed Recommendation: yes; yes, with comments; no, unless specified deficiencies are corrected; no, this Proposed Recommendation should be abandoned.

During this voting period, the Working Group expects to resolve minor technical issues and communicate its results to the W3C Director. After this time, the Director will announce the disposition of the document; it may become a W3C Recommendation (possibly with minor changes), revert to Working Draft status, or may be dropped as a W3C work item.

The Member voting and review period lasts approximately 6 weeks.

The MathML specification has been produced as part of the W3C Math Activity, and is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/PR-math .

For more information on MathML, please see http://www.w3.org/Math/

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to develop common protocols that enhance the interoperability and promote the evolution of the World Wide Web. It is an industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users; reference code implementations to embody and promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, more than 243 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see http://www.w3.org/

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