Wolfram Research Provides Technology for IBM techexplorer 3.0
October 20, 2000IBM has chosen the international conference "MathML and Math
on the Web," hosted by Wolfram Research,
to announce the release of techexplorer
3.0, a browser plugin for rendering
mathematical expressions sent in the MathML extension to HTML. Mathematica
users will be particularly interested to know that a technology exchange between IBM
and Wolfram Research, Inc. has given techexplorer a unique level of interoperability
with Mathematica.
The widespread use of HTML has revolutionized communications, but HTML itself has
limitations. Before MathML, the only way to publish any but the simplest formulas on
the web was to transmit them as bitmapped images, an inefficent and awkward
workaround. The MathML format allows for the web transmission of mathematical
expressions in a much more efficient way. Mathematica 4 can already save
notebook documents as HTML/MathML with one simple command, but most users
could not take full advantage of this capability since the most popular browsers
do not include builtin support for the MathML extension.
techexplorer fills this gap by allowing the most popular browsers to
render expressions transmitted in either
TeX format (a popular format for technical documents in academia) or
MathML format. The upcoming release of Mathematica 4.1 will include
the techexplorer format in its list of "Save As Special..." options, letting users
save their notebooks into a techexplorersavvy form.

Figure 1 A Mathematica notebook



Figure 2 The same notebook saved as a
techexplorer document and displayed in a browser

However, the connection between techexplorer and Mathematica does not
end there. techexplorer is primarily a display technology, but thanks to a
special software interface developed by IBM and Wolfram Research, techexplorer
will be able to use Mathematica's kernel to evaluate expressions and formulas
directly from the browser (Windows only). Moreover, users can paste MathML expressions
directly into their Mathematica notebooks, and Mathematica will interpret
them properlymaking cutandpaste from the web as easy for mathematical formulas
as it is for text.
What Is Mathematica?
Mathematica is the world's only fully integrated technical computing system,
combining interactive calculation (both numeric and symbolic), visualization tools,
and a complete programming environment. Over a million researchers, students, engineers,
physicists, analysts, and other technical professionals worldwide have discovered
Mathematica's unique combination of unmatched computational power and
unprecedented ease of use.
A comprehensive
look at Mathematica is available.
What Is MathML?
MathML is a W3Capproved extension to HTML designed to encode mathematical expressions.
The HTML standard allows for some simple subscript and superscript formatting, but the
standard can't handle anything more intricate. MathML, which is based on the concepts of
Mathematica's own expressionformatting technology, overcomes this limitation.
Just as HTML tells a browser what to display, but lets the browser take care of
details like line breaking, MathML tells the browser what formula to display,
but leaves it to the browser to actually draw the formula on the screen. The result is
that even complex mathematical expressions can be sent efficiently and rendered flexibly.
Details
about Wolfram Research's
contribution to the creation of MathML are also available.
The MathML International Conference 2000
The release of techexplorer 3.0 is being announced at the "MathML and Math on the Web"
international conference. Another example of Wolfram Research's leadership
in bringing mathematics
to the web, this conference is being held on the campus of the University of Illinois at
UrbanaChampaign on October 2021, 2000.
Cosponsored by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), IBM, the American
Mathematical Society, and other industry representatives, the conference
is bringing together many of the key figures involved in defining,
implementing, and using MathML. For a glimpse of the future of mathematics
on the web, see the list of conference presentations.
