1.1 Necessary Conditions

An alternate approach to math publication is to develop a specialized markup language for describing mathematical notation, publish mathematical expressions in this markup language, and develop browsers that can parse this language and display appropriately formatted output. This is the long, slow path we are traveling.

1.1.1 A Math Markup Language - MathML

The first crucial step taken down this path was the development of the W3C MathML (Mathematical Markup Language) specification. This specification, initially published in 1998, has gone through three revisions. MathML 2.0  was last revised in October 2003. A candidate recommendation for MathML 3.0  was released in December 2009.

1.1.2 Browser Support

The second requirement for robust mathematics publication, browser support for MathML, was initiated by Mozilla. Firefox’s first production release, and all subsequent releases, have included MathML support. Other browser developers have not been as forthcoming in this area. Subsequent sections of this document discuss the MathML rendering capabilities of each major browser.

1.1.3 Availability of Math Fonts

An important adjunct to development of a mathematical markup language is the availability of fonts capable of rendering mathematical expressions. Mathematics is a specialized language. Most fonts used to print newspapers were not designed to render Maxwell’s equations. Subsequent sections of this document contain a fairly detailed review of font support for mathematics (in particular, see Section 7).