The World Wide Web Consortium Issues MathML as a W3C Recommendation

Industry Players, Experts Collaborate to Produce Fundamental Solution for Mathematical Content on the Web

Press Release

Fact Sheet


For immediate release
Contact America -- Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>

Kathryn Esplin <kesplin@w3.org>

Contact Europe -- Ned Mitchell <ned@ala.com>
+33 1 43 22 79 56

Andrew Lloyd <allo@ala.com>
+44 127 367 5100

Contact Asia -- Yumiko Matsubara <matsubara@w3.org>
+81.466.47.5111 ext. 3257

http://www.w3.org/ -- 7 April, 1998 -- Advancing its mission to lead the Web to its full potential, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today announced the release of the Mathematical Markup Language (MathML) specification as a W3C Recommendation. MathML, the first application of XML to be issued as a W3C Recommendation, was designed for encoding mathematical notation and content for use on the Web. A W3C Recommendation indicates that a specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership, who are in favor of supporting its adoption by the industry. "MathML is a major breakthrough in content representation on the Web," said Vincent Quint, W3C User Interface Domain Leader. "Not only it will allow scientists, engineers and students to efficiently exchange ideas on the Web, but it's also easy to implement in Web tools, due to its consistency with other Web technologies such as CSS and XML."


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.

"The development of MathML opens the door to a flourishing of the Web as a means to communicate mathematical ideas," said Dr. Dave Raggett, W3C lead for Math. "W3C is thrilled to have brought together such a fine team of experts. MathML will make it practical for users to interact with math in ways that will greatly enrich teaching and technical materials."

"No doubt that many MathML enabled tools will follow the ones already available," added Quint. "Developers at W3C were very excited to support MathML natively in Amaya, W3C's testbed browser/editor."

MathML was developed by the W3C Math Working Group, which is comprised of key industry players and experts from the mathematical community, including 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.

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 whether it should become 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 the Member review and voting period (approximately 6 weeks), the Working Group resolves minor technical issues (if any) and communicates its results to the W3C Director. After this time, the Director announces 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 MathML specification has been produced as part of the W3C Math Activity, and is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-mathml. Please see attached Fact Sheet for additional information on MathML. Screenshots of Amaya's support for MathML are available at http://www.w3.org/Amaya/MathExamples

For information on W3C's work on mathematics, see http://www.w3.org/Math/

For information on the W3C Process, see http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process/

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; sample code implementations to embody and promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, more than 250 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

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

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$Date: 1998/04/09 01:14:09 $