W3C Integrates Math on the Web with MathML 3

Author(s) and publish date


HTML5-Compatible Addition Helps Bridge Accessibility Divide



http://www.w3.org/ -- 21 October 2010 -- W3C announces today an important standard for making mathematics on the Web more accessible and international, especially for early mathematics education. MathML 3 is the third version of a standard supported in a wide variety of applications including Web pages, e-books, equation editors, publishing systems, screen readers (that read aloud the information on a page) and braille displays, ink input devices, e-learning and computational software.

MathML 3 is part of W3C's Open Web Platform, which includes HTML5, CSS, and SVG. Browser vendors will add MathML 3 support as they expand their support for HTML5. Firefox and Camino already support MathML 2 natively, and Safari/WebKit nightly builds continue to improve. Opera supports the MathML for CSS profile of MathML 3. Internet Explorer users can install a freely-available MathPlayer plug-in. In addition, JavaScript software such as MathJax enables MathML display in most browsers without native support.

MathML 3 Enhances Math Accessibility for Education

There is dizzying variation around the world in the visual layout of even the most common operations, including multiplication, long division, subtraction, and "carries" and "borrows" for addition. MathML 3 introduces new support for representing this diversity of notational styles while maintaining sufficient mathematical structure so that problems can be spoken comprehensibly by assistive technology such as screen readers.

"We've incorporated MathML vocabulary into the DAISY Standard and it has proved very effective for middle and upper level math and science," say George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, a W3C Member devoted to developing and promoting accessibility standards. "With MathML 3 support for elementary math notation, materials used to teach math in elementary schools can now be made accessible. This will make production of math faster, cheaper, and better for those with print disabilities."

MathML 3 Makes the Language of Science More International

Although many people think of mathematics as an international language, mathematical notations can vary greatly from region to region. An extreme case is the right-to-left layout of equations encountered in Arabic texts and other right-to-left languages.

"We have been working for the past five years converting Arabic school books to electronic documents, but, we have always faced problems with mathematical books which rely on custom layout and fonts," says Adil Allawi, Technical Director of Diwan Software Limited, a vendor of Arabic language publishing software. "The right-to-left features of MathML 3.0 will make a real difference in the Arab education field. It makes it possible, for the first time, to build standards-based and truly interoperable electronic maths books for students in the Arab countries."

About the World Wide Web Consortium

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 350 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org/.

Media Contacts

Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>, +1.718.260.9447
Marie-Claire Forgue <mcf@w3.org>, +33 6 76 86 33 41


American Chemical Society | American Mathematical Society | Design Science, Inc. | Elsevier | Innovimax (English, Français) | NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions

American Chemical Society

MathML v3.0 is an important update to the venerable MathML v2.0, an XML-based specification for expressing equations. Since the Publications Division of the American Chemical Society has utilized MathML v2.0 for several years in the production of our journal content, we welcome the publishing-focused enhancements included in this version such as more control in specifying automatic line breaking and alignment behaviors. Additional enhancements regarding MathML’s ability to integrate into web and electronic media are also likely to be very well received by many publishers of scientific, technical, and mathematic content.

— Dan O’Brien, American Chemical Society

American Mathematical Society

The American Mathematical Society (AMS) welcomes the new W3C Recommendation MathML 3.0 and its MathML for CSS Profile. The AMS has supported the development of MathML for some years and is pleased to have the possibility of offering MathML 3.0 markup in its MathSciNet product through use of MathJax technology. We expect wider deployment of MathML 3.0 will facilitate communication of mathematics and science over the Web.

— Don McClure, Executive Director, American Mathematical Society

Design Science, Inc.

Design Science is a leading vendor of math and science communications tools, and MathML is important to much of what we do. Our motto is Equations Everywhere and Anywhere, and key to that -- from cut and paste interoperability to accessibility, from computation to high-quality typesetting -- are solid, mature software standards like MathML. New features in MathML 3 for accessibility will help us extend our industry leading MathPlayer accessibility software to lower grade levels, and the much enhanced facilities for line breaking will benefit customers of our MathFlow XML publishing solutions.

— Robert Miner, Vice President, Research and Development, Design Science, Inc.


As a leading scientific publisher Elsevier is committed to the broad dissemination of scientific output, and continues to help drive the development of open global standards for encoding mathematics in the digital age. From basic building blocks like the STIX fonts project, to active support of the W3C and MathML3, open standards of information exchange will help create, validate, share, disseminate and archive mathematical knowledge in a sustainable way. As such Elsevier welcomes this latest and impressive step towards unlocking the vast potential of mathematics on the web by further increasing the accessibility and the value of scientific output.

— David Clark, Senior Vice President, Physical Sciences, Elsevier


English: Innovimax is pleased together with the W3C and the Math Working Group to announce the MathML 3.0 Recommendation. Twelve years after the first Recommendation, the features and changes enables now better integration of Internationalization, especially for Arabic Mathematics. We are thrilled to foresee all the potential of this specification in the Web.

Français: Innovimax se félicite particulièrement du travail accompli par le W3C Math Working Group pour l'achèvement de la recommendation MathML 3.0. Douze années après la première recommendation, les modifications et ajouts apportés permettent desormais une meilleure intégration des l'internationalisation, en particulier dans le domaine des Mathématiques en Arabe. Nous sommes enthousiasmés par le potentiel que permettra cette spécification pour le Web.

— Mohamed Zergaoui, Innovimax

NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions

MathML has proven to be critically important to the NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions, an online reference work containing more than 900 displayed equations. MathML has allowed us to integrate mathematics into our web pages in a natural way that is backed by a community standard, and provides a pathway to a future semantic web of scientific and technical information.

— Ronald Boisvert, Information Technology Editor of DLMF

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