Math Working Group Charter

[This charter ended on 26 April 2016.]

The W3C Process Document describes what is required for a Working Group's charter. Its guidelines are followed here.

Mission Statement

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 confronted adopters.

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.

Scope and Deliverables

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 current version.

Work items for MathML 3.0 include:

Other Deliverables

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:

Criteria for Success

The criteria for success for the Math Working Group are:


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.]

Relationship to other forums within the W3C

Hypertext Coordination Group
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).
XML 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 composition technologies.
WebAPI and WAF WGs
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 Group
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 these areas.
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.
Compound Document Formats
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 Activity
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 Group
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.

Relationship to forums outside the W3C

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.

The 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.
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 OMDoc, 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 Section 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.

W3C Team

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 held.

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 is used for public discussion of mathematical markup and related issues.

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 decisions.

Patent Policy

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.

About this charter

On 14 August 2014, we made two minor corrections to the text: the link was removed from “The Numerical Mathematics Consortium,” because the domain name was reassigned; and the link from “S1000D” was replaced after the old link became broken.

Robert Miner <>
Patrick Ion <>
Bert Bos <>
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