[om] Trip Report to MathML Conference
Michael Kohlhase
Michael_Kohlhase at sausage.fox.cs.cmu.edu
Thu Oct 26 02:21:34 CEST 2000
Dear Friends,
I have written a trip report to the OMDoc mailing list [1] about my
impression of the MathML conference last weekend at Urbana Champaign (minor
corrections by David Carlisle).
Since this is written from an OMDoc [2] point of view, it might be
interesting to you. I have appended it below.
The general feeling I took home from the conference is that there is a
large user community, and they are MOVING! Morever, that probably the best
way to input OpenMath is through MathML (I might be wrong here).
Enjoy,
Michael
[1] omdoc at mathweb.org; archived at http://www.mathweb.org/~mailists/omdoc
[2] OMDoc: Open Mathematical Documents, uses OpenMath as the formula
representation language, see http:/www.mathweb.org/omdoc for details
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Dr. Michael Kohlhase, School of Computer Science (LTI)
FB Informatik, Bau 36, Zi. 220.1 Carnegie Mellon University
Universit"at des Saarlandes, 5000 Forbes Avenue
66041 Saarbr"ucken, Germany Pittsburgh, Pa 15213-3891
tel/fax: (49)-681-302-4628/5076 tel/fax (1) 412-268-5749/6298
net: <kohlhase at cs.uni-sb.de> net: <kohlhase at cs.cmu.edu>
http://www.ags.uni-sb.de/~kohlhase http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~kohlhase
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> Dear all,
>
> since I was the only one on this list who went, I will write a short (lets
> see) and personally biased summary (for the facts go to the web site
> http://www.mathmlconference.org).
>
> First of all, the Conference was hosted by Wolfram Research and was very
> well organized. There were about 190 people from, which I found surprising,
> given the frustration over the often-delayed MathML 2.0 standard and the
> lack of visible tool support.
>
> PROGRAM:
>
> I missed the MathML tutorial, so I cannot say much about that.
>
> The keynote speaker was Bob Sutor from IBM, who emphasized that the web is
> exploding and that it needs standards and that IBM supports standards (even
> if it has to cooperate with Microsoft for that). Interesting for me was the
> information is that IBM and M$ push the soap spec for secure messaging and
> the UDDI initiative for Internet brokering (see www.uddi.org).
>
> Then there was a session on the browsers, Internet explorer and
> Mozilla.
>
> Dave Massey (Industry type, slick speaker, called M$ file formats like Word
> "not proprietary") presented IE5.5 and gave an online demo. IE integrates
> MathML as external COM objects, which need a special declaration in
> html/head (mozialla ignores that, so it is safe to generate). Even though
> he denied it, MathML is second-class citizen, integration is not good,
> e.g. no searching. MathML COM objects are supplied by two separate vendors
> (Design Science and IBM).
>
> Roger Sidje gave the talk on Mozilla (totally different type: Hacker,
> inexperienced speaker, problems with setup). But the demo was great. MathML
> is fully integrated with Mozilla, MathML can freely be mixed with HTML,
> images, SVG, you name it. I liked one demo, where he had a moving image as
> the denominator of a fraction (1/<a dragon>), Impressive; made IE look
> pale.
>
> Then there was Irene Schena from the HELM project of Andrea Asperti at
> Bologna. She was the only one that concentrated on Content MathML with
> DefinitionUrls, uses it for communication with the Coq theorem
> prover. Academically, this is certainly the most interesting project
> presented, (we are talking about cooperation).
>
> Neil Soiffer from Wolfram presented MathML support in Mathematica. He uses
> presentation MathML to communicate with Mathematica. That is kind of easy,
> since Mathematica also has tree-like formula represenations. Surprising
> thesis is that presentation MathML is sufficient, if it comes from machine,
> i.e. it contains enough <mrow> &invisibletimes; and ⁡. Quite
> impressive, but of course only tested on the Mathematica fragment of Math
> (which is of course quite computational and (compared with logic)
> simple). For MathML that is typed in by the user, they use a heuristic
> algorithm to guess the correct formula structure.
>
> John Plaice spoke about generating MathML from OMEGA (reimplementation of
> TeX). That looks like a good production tool for converting LaTeX documents
> to MathML (he generates PMathML), and (maybe OpenMath, if we can get the
> semantics right). He later told me that it is no problem to get OMEGA to
> generate OpenMath and OMDoc, if the input is sufficiently marked up. I
> think that this is going to be much better than my latex2omdoc.sty. He has
> promised a release on Sourceforge soon (watch
> http://sourceforge.net/projects/omega-system).
>
> Then David Carlisle talked about xmltex an XML-parser written in TeX, as a
> consequence LaTeX can directly read in XML (and of course OMDoc). This was
> not much new to me, since I had played with it (see omdoc/tex/macros/xmltex
> on CVS). As an editor of the MathML specification, he did not have much
> time. He emphasized that xmltex (in contrast to XML parsers) does not
> construct the tree for the whole document in memory, but just traverses the
> input. Therefore it can be much more efficient on large documents.
>
> Eitan Guari talked about TeX4ht, a program that transforms LaTeX documents
> to XML (html, MathML,...) without changing the TeX kernel. As a
> consequence, (or because it is more complete) many more config files are
> needed. This seemed doable, but much less elegant than OMEGA. He talked
> about the problems of inferring content from LaTeX, paradigmatic
> examples: for $(a+b)^2$, the TeX parser thinks that the (only the bracket
> is squared what does it care for the content). To get the right kind of
> semantics, we would have to use ${(a+b)}^2$, which of course nobody
> does. OMEGA has the same problems of course (Junk in -> Junk out).
>
> I did not see the talk on converting Handwriting to MathML, but that may
> become important for us later.
>
> The talk about editing MathML with Amaya (the experimental W3C browser;
> open source, see http://www.w3c.org/amaya) was absolutely
> fascinating. Editing in Amaya is seamlessly integrated with browsing (you
> can just place the cursor anywhere (even in MathML of course) and directly
> and intuitively edit the stuff). It would be very convenient if we could
> generated OMDoc that way. I later spoke to Irene Vatton and Vincent Quint
> (the principal developers who gave the talk), they told me that they are
> generating Content MathML with enough ⁢ and <mrow> elements
> to make the structure very explicit, they have promised to also put
> ⁡ generation into the next release (in two weeks). That is
> then enough to recover Content MathML and OpenMath from the output.
>
> <mrow> bla bla bla &Applyfunction foo bar baz</mrow> goes to
> <OMA>blublublu foo bar baz</OMA>, where blublublu is recursively
> generated in the same form (it is the first argument, e.g. another <OMA>).
> This can be done by a style sheet.
>
> They told me that the generator is declaratively defined, so that it should
> be possible to directly generate OpenMath from Amaya (I will try once the
> release is out). The only thing that is really missing is the CD names
> then. They could be inserted from a catalogue (kept separately using a
> style sheet), as a kludge. But Irene and Vincent say that it would probably
> be quite simple to extend Amaya (using their Namespace code) with a
> facility that adds DefinitionUrls to <csymbols> (the CMathML version of
> OMS). Then the output of OpenMath would be really simple.
>
> Finally, they said that it would be relatively simple (but work) to extend
> Amaya with native editing features for docuement-level OMDoc. Then one
> could generate 'xref' and 'for' elements by pointing and clicking. They
> would be prepared to host a C programmer that was interested (that is in
> Grenoble, very nice, anyone interested?) in doing the extension. I see this
> as a very promising path for OMDoc.
>
> Robert Miner of Design Science presented an MathML input applet (a
> miniature equation editor) that can be integrated into web pages, and that
> produces Content Mathml. The applet is commercial, but for academic
> purposes, he is prepared to give out source licenses. Robert was interested
> in extending it to maintain DefinitionUrls, and try to generated OpenMath
> output. Might also be interesting to watch.
>
> A very differenct but no less interesting talk was by Angel Diaz (old
> OpenMath stock, responsible for TexExplorer at IBM), he showed a system
> that could actually read MathML aloud from web pages, using the structure
> of MathML to generate better output.
>
> The most surprising talk was by Paul Karleen of Reed Elsevier. This is the
> publishing company that retypes all the US Patent applications (3000-5000
> per week, imagine that). They have switched to MathML as a representation
> format for the Math in the patent applications. They use a modified version
> of Mathematica to input that. They probably produce more MathML in a month
> than the rest of the world together in a year.
>
>
> Stephane Dalmas talk about using Math Databases for searching Math (using
> automated deduction techniques) was cancelled, since he did not appear
> (neither did his co-author). That was a real pity, since I was very
> interested.
>
> Stephen Wolfram (second keynote speaker), Jeremy Gray and Patrick Ion (AMS
> math Reviews) gave very scholarly talks about the history of mathematical
> notation and symbols. That was very interesting, but gave me no new
> information for OMDoc.
>
> There was also a panel session about using Math in web pages. Look at the
> urls to get an impression about them yourself.
> http://www.studyworksonline.com
> http://www.math.niu.edu/~rusin/known-math
> http://mathforum.com -> Dr. Math
>
> There were a couple of other talks about the use of MathML which I found a
> bit uninspiring (maybe I was just too exhausted), so I will not say
> anything about them. They have promised all the slides to appear at
> http://www.mathmlconference.org in the next couple of weeks).
>
> Michael
>
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