Re: math alphabets, WAS: Proprietary Card Decks

From: Hans Aberg (
Date: Wed Apr 13 2011 - 17:47:11 CDT

  • Next message: Asmus Freytag: "Re: math alphabets, WAS: Proprietary Card Decks"

    On 13 Apr 2011, at 23:58, Asmus Freytag wrote:

    > Yes, mathematicians will use anything available :)
    > However, only some notations will become established enough to warrant standardization. That goes for symbols as well as for the math alphanumerics.
    > If there is an established body of notation that makes a distinction not possible today in Unicode, and especially if that leads to interoperability issues with standards, such as MathML that are built on Unicode, then the proper thing to do is to propose additional encoded characters.
    > This also goes for symbols as well as for math alphanumerics.

    Also, the fact that Unicode does not add everything does not exclude it being used in programs like XeTex, which is an extension of TeX that accepts UTF-8 source files.

    If one wants to use say more than one script font side-by-side, that is possible by choosing different fonts and making macros for the math symbols, just as in TeX with ASCII. So nothing is lost.

    On the other hand, having access to text only math symbols makes it possible to implement it in computer languages, making source code easier to read.

    Right now, I feel there is a lack of keyboard maps. You can develop them on your own, but that is very time consuming.

    > Unicode will always lag the invention of new notation by a bit - that's quite OK, and serves as a brake on innovation for innovations sake (newly invented symbols will not immediately be first-class citizens). Other parts of the infrastructure, like font development and availability will also lag behind any inventions.
    > If an invention catches on in the field and leads to a notation shared by many users, then, at that point, it's Unicode's role to acknowledge this and to accommodate this development in character encoding.
    > That does make Unicode "open-ended", but only to the degree that writing systems (including notational systems) aren't fixed over time. Unicode is not designed to be open ended in the sense of supporting any use that can be imagined, but only in the sense that it should support those uses that have gained acceptance.

    Unicode does not have characters for say superscripts and subscripts, which are essential to math. My guess it would be too complicated to require it for current text-only renderers, but in the future that might change.


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