This note of optimism is shared by Dr Robert Miner, technical director of the maths software company Design Science and a member of the MathML working group.Miner, previously a mathematician at the University of Minnesota, founded the company Geometry Technologies, which was later bought by Design Science for its MathML based software WebEQ, taking Miner along with it.
The impetus behind the take-up of MathML
, thinks Miner
, is that related programs are coming of age."Mozilla and Netscape 6
now have added XML functionality, and XML processing tools are becoming more common," he
explains."We are also starting to see a network effect within the software vendor community.There is a tacit assumption among them that there is strength in numbers, and by agreeing on a standard there is a sort of second-order effect."
According to Miner
, the impact of MathML
will be profound.He
looks forward to the time when enough information is coded into an equation to support intelligent searching and indexing.This could prevent duplication of work, he
says."In biology, for example, tons of scientists might write about a particular compound in different contexts, and it can take an age to realise they are writing about the same thing.The same thing can also happen in math, particularly across disciplines.Taxonomies of knowledge create artificial boundaries.Overcoming these will have a very profound effect, which could be comparable in scale to the last real quantum leap in collaboration - the peer-review process." Miner
colleagues at Design Science typify the enthusiasm to be found for XML among those working on it.The company is continuing development of XML-based products, with upgrades to the MathType equation editor and the WebEQ development tool on the way and a new MathML plug-in for IE6.0 coming soon.
In fact, it is hard to find detractors, although there will always be some resistance to change.Miner
and Ion agree that converting those who are attached to the TeX language for expressing maths could be hard.