re: HTML+ support for eqn & Postscript

Torben Noerup Nielsen (
Fri, 18 Jun 1993 08:13:30 -1000


>The ability to embed foreign formats seems a good thing as it allows us to
>take advantage of evolving de facto standards for a whole range of things.

Mathematics should *not* be considered a foreign format. It should be fully
integrated and allow easy construction of hypertext with lots of references.
Typical mathematical/scientific exposition skips what more advanced readers
will consider insignificant steps. It should be possible to expand such steps
by just clicking on them.

>Just how critical is building in support for equations to the continuing
>growth of the web? IMHO long term success is more important than intellectual

I don't see why support for equations goes against intellectual purity at all.
Equation support is quite clean; i.e., it's ideally suited for markup.
Consider also that if it were supported, it would be pretty easy to set up
filters that would allow the text to be parsed and ingested into symbolic
mathematics packages.

Without adequate support for equations and general mathematical notation, the
Web will not be able to reasonably support scientific papers and I think that
a lot of potential utility is lost. The Web will then degenerate from being a
potentially very useful tool to being an interesting toy. But that's just my

>I will have a look at eqn and Latex to get a feeling for what would
>be involved in extending HTML+ to directly support equations, and how
>one could deal with it in browsers.

Eqn and TeX are essentially equivalent as far as mathematics is concerned.
Yeah, TeX is supposed to be more ``standard" in terms of spacing and so forth,
but structurally, they are equivalent. Eqn is old, but incredibly useful and
quite clean as well.

Thanks, Torben