W3C WD-math-970704

Mathematical Markup Language

W3C Working Draft

This version:
10-Jul-1997: http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/TR/WD-math-970710
Previous version:
15-May-1997: http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/TR/WD-math-970515
Patrick Ion <ion@math.ams.org>
(Mathematical Reviews / American Mathematical Society)
Robert Miner <rminer@geom.umn.edu>
(Geometry Center / University of Minnesota)
Principal Writers:
Stephen Buswell, Angel Diaz, Nico Poppelier, Bruce Smith,
Neil Soiffer, Stephen Watt


Mathematical Markup Language, or MathML, is an XML application for describing mathematical notation and capturing both its structure and content. The goal of MathML is to enable mathematics to be served, received, and processed on the Web, just as HTML has enabled this functionality for text.

This document begins with background information on mathematical notation, the problems it poses, and the philosophy underlying the solutions MathML proposes. MathML can be used to encode both mathematical notation and mathematical content. About 25 of the MathML tags describe abstract notational structures, while another 50 provide a way of unambiguously specifying the intended meaning of an expression. Additional chapters discuss how the MathML content and presentation tags interact, and how MathML renderers might be implemented and should interact with browsers. Finally, this document addresses the issue of MathML entities (extended characters) and their relation to fonts.

Status of this document

This draft is work under review by the W3C HTML-Math Working Group, which hopes it will develop into a W3C Recommendation. Please remember this is subject to change at any time, and may be updated, replaced or made obsolete by other documents. It is inappropriate to use W3C Working Drafts as reference material or to cite them as other than "work in progress". The Working Group does have a plan below for updating this document in the light of the comment and suggestions that they hope will come from the community interested in the use of mathematics over the internet.

A list of current W3C Working Drafts can be found at http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/TR. This document is work in progress and does not imply endorsement by, or the final consensus of, either W3C or members of the HTML working group.

Please send detailed comments to the Working Draft's editors. We cannot guarantee a personal response, but summaries will be maintained off the HTML-Math WG page. Public discussion on features for math in HTML contexts takes place on www-math@w3.org. To subscribe send a message to www-math-request@w3.org with "subscribe" as the content of the subject. There in a public archive for this mailing list.

Since the fundamental Extensible Markup Language (XML) standard itself is not yet finished, and many questions concerning compatibility with the recommendations of other W3C Working Groups and de facto industry standards are not yet settled, this document is very much of a provisory character. However, the HTML-Math Working Group has, in one guise or another, been working on the problems of mathematics on the Web for more than two years, and feels that the broad areas of consensus it has achieved, in spite of the diversity of its membership, justify the publication of a first draft proposal for handling mathematics on the Web. We expect to make very few emendations to the document except according to the schedule below so as to facilitate thoughtful analysis:

Since a MathML proposed recommendation is not anticipated until later this year, the HTML-Math Working Group is encouraging the concurrent development of MathML software. Applets and plug-ins for displaying MathML in Web browsers, as well as prototype authoring tools, will be available later this year.

The HTML-Math Working Group intends further development of recommendations for mathematics on the Web, as set out below and in its Charter. In particular, work is under way on several matters, such as macro mechanisms and alternative input syntaxes, and fonts. A second Working Draft covering these and other considerations is planned for May 1998, and other materials may be expected in the interim.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. MathML in Practice: The Basics
Chapter 3. Presentation Markup
Chapter 4. Content Markup
Chapter 5. Mixing Presentation and Content
Chapter 6. Entities, Characters and Fonts
Chapter 7. The MathML Core Interface

Appendix A. DTD for MathML
Appendix B. Glossary
Appendix C. Operator Dictionary
Appendix D. Working Group Membership

Revision History