**From:** Kenneth Whistler (*kenw@sybase.com*)

**Date:** Fri Apr 21 2006 - 13:43:57 CST

**Previous message:**Jukka K. Korpela: "Re: Planck's constant U+210E"**Maybe in reply to:**Andreas Prilop: "Planck's constant U+210E"**Messages sorted by:**[ date ] [ thread ] [ subject ] [ author ] [ attachment ]**Mail actions:**[ respond to this message ] [ mail a new topic ]

Jukka Korpela asked:

*> Why was (any) coverage needed _for MathML_?
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Yes.

*> I can see the point in using
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*> mathematical italics letters and similar symbols _in plain text_, but
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*> isn't MathML supposed to be a mathematical _markup_ language?
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*>
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*> It might be more convenient, especially from the authoring point of view,
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*> to write the symbols simply as characters with code points of their own.
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*> But in a markup language, one _could_ also use markup for the same
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*> purpose, say, using <mi>h</mi> to denote mathematical italics "h".
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Yes, but there were requests otherwise, both by the mathematical

community represented by the STIX project that worked with the

UTC for years on encoding mathematical symbols, and by implementers

of software that *uses* these characters, not only for mathematical

layout, but also for computational algebra.

There is no question that markup languages *can* mark up style for

mathematical symbols, just as they could for anything else -- but

this argument regarding the addition of the Mathematical

Alphanumeric Symbols was played out *years* ago, and there is

little point in rehashing it yet again.

*>
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*> There's a potential future problem. Mathematicians keep inventing new
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*> symbols as they need them, using, say, Latin or Greek letters in some
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*> particular style (say, bold italic underlined and overlined - there are
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*> infinite possibilities). Will they all be encoded in Unicode?
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The UTC and WG2 will burn those bridges when they get to them,

as they do for every new set of symbols brought in as candidates

for encoding.

The fact that the possibilities are "infinite" doesn't mean that

even mathematicians are so foolish as to invent infinite sets

of symbols to represent mathematical entities. After all, as for

every other use of technical orthography and nomenclature, there

is at least *some* intent here to be able to communicate with

others who can also learn and interpret your symbols. That's

why most mathematics does in fact continue to make use of

existing symbols and well known conventions for simply indexing

entities and symbols to indicate indefinite numerical generalizations.

So while people can cry Wolf! at the door here, in *practice* the

existing set of symbols will serve almost all purposes for

almost all mathematicians, and I expect that what we will see

will simply be a small trickle of additional symbols for

math in upcoming years and decades, as new symbols become

innovated and entrenched in actual practice. Small trickles

the committees are quite good at handling, actually -- so I

don't see a *real* problem here, as opposed to an *imaginary*

one. ;-)

--Ken

*>
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*> --
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*> Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
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*>
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*>
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*>
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