American Mathematical Society

To develop semantic capabilities for open source systems that display mathematics on the World Wide Web

  • Amount $139,688
  • City Providence, RI
  • Investigator Donald McClure
  • Year 2014
  • Program Digital Technology
  • Sub-program Scholarly Communication

The meaning of mathematical formulae depends on how they are represented and displayed. Mathematical symbols have to be arranged and ordered precisely, lest the meaning of formulae change completely. A poorly placed line break can render a mathematical expression incoherent.  The rise of the internet has made this problem acute.  Major browsers developed by Apple, Google, and Microsoft do not support mathematical content.  As more and more content is accessed on screens, tablet computers, and smart phones, mathematicians need a tool that can rearrange mathematical expressions dynamically without distortion of meaning.  This grant funds efforts by a consortium led by the American Mathematical Society (AMS) to “semantically enrich” MathML, a markup language used by the popular, open source MathJax platform.  The AMS team aims to further develop the MathML language, allowing it to encode information about the meaning of mathematical expressions and how to display them.  If successful, the project would eventually allow browsers to treat mathematical expressions not as uninterpreted strings of symbols, but as contentful expressions whose meaning must be preserved across changes in display.

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