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Firefox Is the First Browser To Pass the MathML Acid2 Test

timothy posted about a year ago | from the assembling-data-please-wait dept.

Firefox 134

An anonymous reader writes "Frédéric Wang, an engineer at the MathJax project, reports that the latest nightly build of Firefox now passes the MathML Acid2 test. Screenshots in his post show a comparison with the latest nightly Chrome Canary, and it's not pretty. He writes 'Google developers forked Webkit and decided to remove from Blink all the code (including MathML) on which they don't plan to work in the short term.'"

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When you have money, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626433)

You don't need math.

Re:When you have money, (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626531)

I suspect they were using Chrome in a Google Spreadsheet when calculating their bid for Motorola Mobility.

Re:When you have money, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626913)

I suspect they were using Chrome in a Google Spreadsheet when calculating their bid for Motorola Mobility.

And probably a Pentium with the fdiv problem :)

Re:When you have money, (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#43628321)

Under Emacs.

Re:When you have money, (1)

Tore S B (711705) | about a year ago | (#43629877)

Wow! It's been a while since I've seen an FDIV joke.

chrome fails MathML acid1 (4, Funny)

johnjones (14274) | about a year ago | (#43626505)

I simply cant believe this...

MathML is a pretty important to allowing papers to be...

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#43626667)

But how many of your average users are gonna be going to pages where MathML would be useful? if it was 3% I'd be amazed. If Google isn't gonna be spending time working on it right now its probably better to remove it entirely as that makes one less vector for a browser exploit.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (0, Offtopic)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year ago | (#43626705)

Chrome stable passed it just fine.

This shows why enterprises prefer stability and ancient standards like old IE over Chrome who changes the rendering engine on a whim.

This whole article is clearly false. I ran this test on Firefox 17 ESR (the older annual updated version) and it ran. Last, I even ran it on IE. Perfect! I set the compatibility mode to lower and IE 9 ran fine too, and so did IE 8 render it fine as well which is old in modern standards.

Maybe I am missing something but every browser can pass this ... well except the alpha quality ones.

It's supposed to look like a happy face, numbskull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626773)

Not one that has been sucked through a jet engine then run over by a bad car analogy.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#43626865)

Chrome stable passed it just fine.

Are you looking at the same MathML Acid tests that I am? These are not the same tests as the original Acid and Acid 2 tests.

Chrome Stable, at least on OS X, fails MathML Acid 1 miserably, as does Chrome Canary. All the fractions are shown as the left part followed by a space followed by the right part instead of as a fraction. Safari on OS X is basically correct for MathML Acid 1 (albeit with the ugliest parentheses I've ever seen), but if you reload the page, the curly braces disappear, as do the comma inside the curly braces and the plus sign.

And the MathML Acid 2 test looks like a freaking Picasso on all three browsers.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629373)

As far as I know, MathML support is disabled in Chrome.

IE doesn't support MathML (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627103)

That is rather impressive considering IE doesn't support MathML, and requires a plug in to get it working on IE 7 and 8. The plug-in has some trouble in IE 9 and 10 though, although they might have a beta working now. MS has no plans of adding MathML support and recommend using a MS program to export the equation as an image or using another program to export it as an SVG.

Re:IE doesn't support MathML (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628011)

MathML is supported in IE natively (at least it is for IE 10). What makes you say otherwise? Just head on over to http://www.mathjax.org/demos/mathml-samples/ and see for yourself.

Re:IE doesn't support MathML (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#43628813)

MathML is supported in IE natively (at least it is for IE 10). What makes you say otherwise? Just head on over to http://www.mathjax.org/demos/mathml-samples/ [mathjax.org] and see for yourself.

I don't have IE10 and therefore cannot tell whether it does or does not support MathML, however I just want to make sure you've seen that this page by default does not render MathML, but builds the formulas with HTML+CSS. You have to explicitly select "MathML" with the dropdown selector to see what it looks like rendered using MathML.

Re:IE doesn't support MathML (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628985)

MathJax uses javascript to render equations using normal HTML and CSS tricks on browsers that do not support MathML but do support javascript. For some people this is enough, with the caveats that the script has to be installed on the webpage a priori. There are ways probably to make it load by default for every page you open by messing with browser settings, but without instructions that is not easily available to the common user. And along that lines, you might as well claim browsers natively support opening Quake map files since there are javascript implementations of Quake engines.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626859)

Personally I browse pages that use MathML every single day (literally), opengl.org ref pages, have MathML scattered throughout - I've never bothered installing chrome on a workstation once due to lack of MathML support, and don't ever plan on doing so until it can (among many other missing features).

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (5, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#43626871)

The reason to improve MathML support isn't browsers. It's eBook readers that share the underlying rendering engines. Lots of textbook publishers want to use MathML, but without robust, reliable, visually appealing support, everybody has to do awful hacks with inline images or (hopefully) SVG instead.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (4, Informative)

tyrione (134248) | about a year ago | (#43627077)

The reason to improve MathML support isn't browsers. It's eBook readers that share the underlying rendering engines. Lots of textbook publishers want to use MathML, but without robust, reliable, visually appealing support, everybody has to do awful hacks with inline images or (hopefully) SVG instead.

Spot on. EPub 3.x with MathML 3.0 is vital to work in digital publishing for iOS, Android, etc.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#43628739)

MathML is a static content description language like (pure) HTML, not a programming language like JavaScript. Moreover, it should use the same parser used for all other XML based content (like XHTML), which is most likely even the same parser which is used to parse HTML. So I cannot see how MathML could be used for an exploit which is not possible for HTML (unless you did a really crappy implementation).

Re: chrome fails MathML acid1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629605)

you do realize 3% = a million people right?

The majority meme (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43629623)

But how many of your average users are gonna be going to pages where MathML would be useful? if it was 3% I'd be amazed.

Again with the "if it's not useful to the 51% it's not useful to anyone" meme. For one thing, the Web was invented for use by academia. For another, pretty much everyone who goes to college or even high school ends up seeing an equation at some time.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (3, Insightful)

narcc (412956) | about a year ago | (#43626867)

It's a real shame -- MathML is abysmal.

A few zillion years ago, we had the math tag, which was similar to TeX. It died on the vine, but would have been MUCH better than the cruel joke that is MathML.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627277)

It died on the vine, but would have been MUCH better than the cruel joke that is MathML.

Only for those writing HTML documents by hand. Most people use automated tools to generate the required code - makes no difference to them how it is finally presented to the web browser. And those people who do write by hand are the same people who can write a script to extract, convert, then replace their TeX code with MathML.

And in regards to the web browser, formatting the code in a format that can be parsed by the existing HTML engine greatly reduces the effort required to implement the tags. This is what MathML has going for it because otherwise one would have to implement a TeX parser into the web engine.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#43627763)

MathML attempts to separate the content and presentation. This is fine if you have a tool that properly supports both (I've never used one, maybe Mathematica or similar does?), but it sucks for most editors. The idea is that you can have a single format that describes both how to lay out equations and their semantics. In practice, pretty much everyone who generates MathML does it from the TeX equivalent and so only ever gets the presentation form. The other advantage of MathML is that each individual element is exposed via the DOM, so it's easy to manipulate equations from JavaScript, although I don't think I've ever seen that done either.

Part of the problem with a format that is basically impossible for humans to write is that it also ends up being difficult to produce tools that can write and display it, which is why it's taken 10 years or so for MathML to get even a token amount of support in mainstream browsers...

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628017)

The point of HTML is that it can be easily written by hand. And yes, a TeX browser plugin would be a better solution.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628641)

That is silly.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628885)

WTF? You actually think HTML is hard to write by hand?

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (1)

emt377 (610337) | about a year ago | (#43628261)

Most people use automated tools to generate the required code - makes no difference to them how it is finally presented to the web browser. And those people who do write by hand are the same people who can write a script to extract, convert, then replace their TeX code with MathML.

Eh. A math tag would have allowed me to type math in my response to you right here, in postings to facebook, email, or anywhere HTML is used. Requiring a site to source scripts guarantees it'll never be more than peripheral and utterly irrelevant.

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#43628867)

A math tag would have allowed me to type math in my response to you right here

HTML also supports Γ but you'll not get Slashdot to display it. What makes you think that a math tag would be supported, if it doesn't even support all characters usually found in formulas?

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629169)

"...TeX parser into the web engine"
Oh yes please. I'm tired that after 20 years of development web pages still look like shit compared to the basic Latex documents.

Why is that Knuth released an open source document setting engine (Tex) 35 years ego, but all documents besides his Tex or Latex all still looks horrible amateurish: LibreOffice, Microsoft Office, Firefox, Chrome, etc. Why it's not possible to use the algorithms developed in Tex to use for ODF documents or to render web sites?

Re:chrome fails MathML acid1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628193)

The problems with the math tag were that it didn't allow separation of semantics and styling, and that it was hard to parse due to an abundance of escape characters. Its grammar was derived from TeX so it was a monster. It might be okay if you edit it only by hand and check your results for unexpected errors, but it isn't when you need to manipulate the data with software.

I for one am glad they left out Blink. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626515)

It's the worst HTML tag EVER.

Re:I for one am glad they left out Blink. (4, Informative)

corychristison (951993) | about a year ago | (#43626609)

My many web design/development clients would disagree with you. I don't even want to recall the times I've had to tell them No for blinking things.

Unfortunately they think blinking == attention getting, whereas we think blinking == f*cking irritating.

Re:I for one am glad they left out Blink. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626979)

Whoosh!

Google renamed their fork of Webkit. They called it Blink. Nothing to do with actual blinking.

A stupid name but there you go. (I get that it could be a joke but it is so unfunny it seems more likely the poster misunderstood.)

Re:I for one am glad they left out Blink. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43627009)

It's the worst HTML tag EVER.

My many web design/development clients would disagree with you. I don't even want to recall the times I've had to tell them No for blinking things.

Unfortunately they think blinking == attention getting, whereas we think blinking == f*cking irritating.

<BLINK> tags don't annoy people, people do. Don't give them a blinking tag, they'll just create a .GIF or worse a jittering noisy Flash animation. I used a blinking tag in a non-annoying way: to emulate a DOS like cursor for my temporary landing page.
Firefox supports the blinking text, but Chrome doesn't...

Google's Blink seems to have an apt name. They named their codebase fork after things they actively don't support. The name "Blink" would seem be synonymous with "Dropping Support Of..." I hope they keep this trend up. After all, it's a net loss to spend money developing a web browser when other fully open source browsers exist, so eventually I can see them dropping support for HTML when they don't plan to have to PAY any developers to work on it. Note: Chromium has developers that are not Google Employees. Some of us might have taken up the call to further maintain Math ML, if we were every fucking asked.

Blink tag can be done with CSS animation (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43629651)

I used a blinking tag in a non-annoying way: to emulate a DOS like cursor for my temporary landing page.

To simulate a blinking insertion point, you could have used a CSS animation.

Re:I for one am glad they left out Blink. (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43627073)

Unfortunately, f*cking irritating == attention getting, so by the commutative quality of the equivalency group, they are technically correct, and we are f*cking screwed.

Re:I for one am glad they left out Blink. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627205)

You don't understand "blink" do you? We're not talking about the tag here.

Re:I for one am glad they left out Blink. (1)

caspy7 (117545) | about a year ago | (#43627593)

Unfortunately they think blinking == attention getting, whereas we think blinking == f*cking irritating.

Admittedly, they're right. Fortunately, we're righter.

Re:I for one am glad they left out Blink. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629513)

Except web browsers and their rendering engines are not HTML tags.

Replacing one browser engine for another, your sentence is stating:
"Firefox's Gecko is the worst HTML tag ever"
or
"WebKit is the worst HTML tag ever"

Even the claim "Internet Explorer's Trident is the worst HTML tag ever" is still ridiculous, although more because you included "HTML tag" than for the rest of the statement :P

pretentious non-sense (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626539)

Source Code of any language makes a better mathematical notation then your Ivory Tower notation of acadamia.

Who cares? (-1, Troll)

retchdog (1319261) | about a year ago | (#43626571)

I see how passing this test is important in principle, I guess, but since it is elementary constructs used in a very complex and artificial way, does it really have much to do with how real math will look?

At least it's objective. That's something.

That chrome (at least the MacOS 26.0.1410.65 build) falls down hard on even the more reasonable mathml acid1 [github.io] seems more significant...

Re:Who cares? (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year ago | (#43626645)

I agree that it's surprising that Chrome seems to fail even on simplistic things. However, Chrome doesn't really feel like the kind of browser that goes for that sort of thing either. Given a choice between MathML and rounded corners (just as an example), I can well imagine that the latter would be far more popular, find wide-spread adoption, and be able to differentiate Chrome from other browsers.

The fairly limited set of publishers/users that would find MathML something that they'd have an absolute need form, seem to be using things that drop in an image of the MathML instead; stumbled across some sites in the past, equation in an image that replaced a piece of text that described the equation. No idea what that site used, but here's an example:
http://dlippman.imathas.com/asciimathtex/AMT.html [imathas.com]

I can well imagine that supporting MathML does not exactly have a very high priority. Desktop sharing in Google Hangouts, albeit via a plugin at this time, on the other hand..

Re:Who cares? (5, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year ago | (#43626737)

Ask a web developer what they think about Chrome?

It is not all positive. It is buggy and has proprietary extensions similiar to something that sounded familiar in the past [pcmag.com] ? Its javascript sometimes does not load on sites and its version of HTML 5 is differnent from others. HTML5test.com tests things that W3C implements a little differently or not at all.

Remember IE 6 was lean mean and standards compliant compared to the god awefull netscape 10 years ago too. Hard to believe in a place like slashdot to admit but if you go read slashdot history on the most discussed stories of all time "What keeps you on Windows from 2002" IE 6 is mentioned!

The switch to a new rendering engine is going to cause issues soon and many corporate oriented SVs and site makers will not be pleased.

Re:Who cares? (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year ago | (#43627233)

IE5 was lean and mean, and about as ideal as you could get for those days (security notwithstanding). The bloat began with IE6, and by then, Netscape was the better browser, feature- and resource-wise.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627295)

Google's track record is that they're excellent at developing exciting new core tech, but mostly rubbish at making it rock solid or going beyond the basics. But they do have their hands in a LOT of projects, so that checks out. Shame Chrome is one of the better ones, but is still so flimsy, though. Sure, it gets massive points on HTML5 tests, but go a bit deeper under the hood and it's quite superficial support in the end. Mozilla's mostly caught up where it counts the most now, so it's going to be interesting to see what happens over the next few years. Slow and steady may just "win the race" (though I don't consider there to be much to win here)

Re:Who cares? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43627689)

I don't think Google has given up on MathML though, they just are not supporting it until it reaches as usable and stable level in WebKit. Then they will port over that entire chunk of code.

This is a common thing for people doing forks because you don't really want to spend time folding in partially working code from the other guys that brings little benefit. Just wait until it works and do it all in one hit.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Shimbo (100005) | about a year ago | (#43627735)

Remember IE 6 was lean mean and standards compliant compared to the god awefull netscape 10 years ago too.

That's IE 6 great claim to fame. Compared to the bloated corpse of Netscape 4, it looked quite good.

Re:Who cares? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#43627849)

But IE6 came out in the days of Netscape 6

Re:Who cares? (1)

Nimey (114278) | about a year ago | (#43629007)

Netscape 6 was based on an early beta version of Mozilla Suite, somewhere between the last milestone release (M18) and the first real beta (0.7). In fact, IIRC the Mozilla team retconned v0.6 to match what AOL pulled for Netscape 6.0.

The first production-ready version of Mozilla-based Netscape was 7, I think, which was based on Mozilla 1.x.

I don't think many people used Netscape 6.

MathML support was turned off in Chrome 25 (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#43628267)

You can star issue 152430 [google.com] to get support reenabled.

Re:Who cares? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626939)

The open source faggots care. Because they're lives aren't about anything but the will of Linus and RMS. So they suck at the dick of open source and make everything that happens in open source sound like a breakthrough.
 
But those of us who aren't flaming faggot fanboifags know that it just doesn't matter.
 
If you disagree then you're a dick smoking shill, swinging off the nutsack of some filthy hippy fuck who eats stuff off his feet.

Your opinion of mathematicians is noted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626975)

The real reason to improve MathML support is eBook readers that share the underlying rendering engines. Lots of textbook publishers want to use MathML, but without robust, reliable, visually appealing support, everybody has to do awful hacks with inline images or (hopefully) SVG instead.

Right now their only choice of rendering engines to truly show math symbols is Gecko. BTW, this isn't a new standard. Proprietary engines like Opera's Presto and Microsoft's Trident have had just as many years to implement this, and the eBook industry would've been just as happy to pay a license fee to use them.

Isn't MathML dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626711)

Seriously, where is anyone using MathML? All the major math sites (AMS, Math Overflow, ...) seem to be using MathJAX instead--and they work very well under Chrome.

Ah, remember the good old days (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626743)

when this exact argument was used against SVG? Now every browser has it, and the pain of using a javascript library shim for the holdouts is gone.

Re:Isn't MathML dead? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#43628943)

Sure, you can use workarounds like MathJAX. But it doesn't mean it is more than a workaround. What happens if you want to read some HTML containing formulas while offline?

Offline copy of MathML to HTML+CSS script (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43629675)

What happens if you want to read some HTML containing formulas while offline?

Then make an HTML document with a MathML data island, and have a <script> element in the HTML document reference an offline copy of the JavaScript program that translates MathML to HTML+CSS.

Or get a MiFi.

Let me be the first to say (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626717)

Congratulations Mozilla! Still striving for standards means Firefox's job of keeping the others in check is just as important as ever.

Lol slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626753)

http://qubemod.com/ [qubemod.com]

Which browser is better IE, Chrome, Safari or FF (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626759)

Which browser do you guys think is the best? I created a poll for this question below:

http://www.WebPollGenerator.com/ViewPoll.php?p=518479ddc8c59

Curious to find out the results!

Does it really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626765)

For years firefox had code to bypass specifically acid tests to make it appear as if it would pass but it would really just form the tests properly to pass in one specific situation. Is it actually working or is it just cheating like before?

Yes, really. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626817)

and DOX or GTFO on that lame-arse claim about cheating. There's a link right in TFS for you to download the nightly Firefox and test for yourself.

You're thinking of Chrome and Safari (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626891)

Re:You're thinking of Chrome and Safari (1)

Nimey (114278) | about a year ago | (#43629017)

That should surprise exactly no one.

MathJax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626853)

becasue LaTeX is easier to write than XML.

Re:MathJax (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | about a year ago | (#43626917)

While LaTeX looks good printed on paper, the default MathJax fonts aren't great on a screen.

Re:MathJax (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627197)

If your browser has good MathML rendering, MathJax can use that.
http://docs.mathjax.org/en/latest/output.html

This proves the point of needing it in the browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627583)

Which is why the one who broke this story is a MathJax developer.

Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (1, Troll)

TrollstonButtersbean (2890693) | about a year ago | (#43627051)

Mathematics is one of those fields that could use some ISO standards.

There are critics of C++ that say the language is just pieces and parts hacked together. Even if that is true, mathematics takes the undisputed crown of bizarre hacked together symbols.

The symbols used in mathematics are unintelligible, inconsistent, don't even use a standard language character set and cannot be represented in a programming language.

These mathematical symbols either need to be modernized to come to a standardization or die.

The real answer is that they will die. And they should.

There's a very good reason Maths is hard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627083)

Because if it was made easier to understand then the aliens visiting us now would figure out how far behind them our tech is, and conquer us in 7 minutes.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627113)

Mathematics is one of those fields that could use some ISO standards.

There are critics of C++ that say the language is just pieces and parts hacked together. Even if that is true, mathematics takes the undisputed crown of bizarre hacked together symbols.

The symbols used in mathematics are unintelligible, inconsistent, don't even use a standard language character set and cannot be represented in a programming language.

These mathematical symbols either need to be modernized to come to a standardization or die.

What the hell? I can believe how incredibly ignorant is this comment. Do you even work with mathematics? The symbols used in mathematics are jargon to be sure, but every (non-trivial) field of endeavours has its jargon. And that jargon makes mathematics significantly easier to work with day-to-day for its practitioners.

You make it sound like mathematics deliberately chose symbols and syntax that was difficult to implement in a programming language, as if that's the pinnacle of the written form. Of course, mathematics predates programming languages by centuries if not millenia. And the symbol it uses are part of a standard language character set, just not those that has yet been popular in the (relative) young computer world. You're comparing mathematics to a single programming language. You should instead compare mathematics to every programming language combined.

Your comment makes as much sense as suggesting we should make all computer languages like COBOL. Sure, it makes the actual words more readable and standardised, but it doesn't help the layperson because the average person isn't going to read any computer languages anyway. And it hinders any computer programmer by making it more difficult and wordy to express complicated concepts.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (2, Interesting)

chithanh (1921670) | about a year ago | (#43627285)

What the hell? I can believe how incredibly ignorant is this comment. Do you even work with mathematics? The symbols used in mathematics are jargon to be sure, but every (non-trivial) field of endeavours has its jargon. And that jargon makes mathematics significantly easier to work with day-to-day for its practitioners.

You make it sound like mathematics deliberately chose symbols and syntax that was difficult to implement in a programming language, as if that's the pinnacle of the written form. Of course, mathematics predates programming languages by centuries if not millenia.

The problem is that these symbols are no longer suitable for the modern world. They were fine at the time when they were conceived, but technology has moved on and requires something better.

And the symbol it uses are part of a standard language character set, just not those that has yet been popular in the (relative) young computer world. You're comparing mathematics to a single programming language. You should instead compare mathematics to every programming language combined.

The criticism was not that the symbols are undisplayable, it is that their use is not consistent and not possible as part of a computer program, aside from very special languages which specifically cater for Math. A few attempts have been made to reconcile these (for example RPN and stack-based languages like Forth) but have not seen widespread adoption so far.

With regards to the GP, I think that the inconsistency is especially bad. For example, whether N is meant to include 0 or not often depends on whether the author thinks that the natural numbers include 0 or not (which are two totally different things). Then many authors use trigonometric functions like operators to avoid writing parentheses, but without formally specifying the binding/precedence level. So when one reads "sin^2 x*y" does that mean "(sin(x)^2)y" or "sin(x*y)^2" or "sin(sin(x))*y" or "sin(sin(x*y))"? The list goes on.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627443)

The problem is that these symbols are no longer suitable for the modern world. They were fine at the time when they were conceived, but technology has moved on and requires something better.

These symbols were difficult when computers were new and slow. Nowadays, there are things like Unicode, LaTeX and MathML which partially solves those problems. You make it sound like we should adapt to computers, that's understandable when computers were expensive, but they're now cheap and we should optimise for humans in my opinion.

The criticism was not that the symbols are undisplayable, it is that their use is not consistent and not possible as part of a computer program, aside from very special languages which specifically cater for Math. A few attempts have been made to reconcile these (for example RPN and stack-based languages like Forth) but have not seen widespread adoption so far.

With regards to the GP, I think that the inconsistency is especially bad. For example, whether N is meant to include 0 or not often depends on whether the author thinks that the natural numbers include 0 or not (which are two totally different things). Then many authors use trigonometric functions like operators to avoid writing parentheses, but without formally specifying the binding/precedence level. So when one reads "sin^2 x*y" does that mean "(sin(x)^2)y" or "sin(x*y)^2" or "sin(sin(x))*y" or "sin(sin(x*y))"? The list goes on.

That's because of the limitation in conveying Mathematics in ASCII as well as either people writing the mathematics being insufficiently clear (which can happen in English or programming languages) or the person reading the mathematics not being familiar with the conventions in that area of mathematics. The issues with precedences also occurs in programming languages, the solution is a mixture of both strong convention (people write "a+b*c" and not "a+(b*c)") and/or brackets.

So "sin^2 x*y" means "(sin(x*y))^2", it's a pretty strong convention. If you meant "(sin(x)^2)y" (as "(sin(x^2))*y"), you'd write as "y sin x^2". If you meant "sin(sin(x))*y", you'd write as "y sin(sin(x))". If you meant "sin(sin(x*y))", you'd write as that or "sin(sin x*y)". Sure, it's a bit odd for people unfamiliar with mathematics, but those people are never going to do mathematics anyway. The people who drives a language's evolution are those people who uses it.

Now, I agree that inconsistency is bad. But eliminating inconsistency isn't free. It has a huge transitional cost. It'd render significant amounts of published works difficult/impossible to read for future generations. It also has an even more significant ongoing cost. It means in new fields of mathematics, that different people around the world has to decide on an appropriate encoding, that's pretty much impossible (also see: ).

Why not replace (in your comment) "mathematics" with "English" or "programming language". Whenever a new word is needed, it'll need to go through a central body and that's just vocabulary. Imagine trying to create a *practical* programming language that will last forever. Turing machines don't count.

I'm pretty confident it'd be less work to implement support for mathematics than to re-standardise all of mathematics to a different form. Now, I no longer work with mathematics day-to-day, so I'm not going to do that work improving mathematics support in computers. But there's a lot of people who do and I'd both applaud them for that work and also agree with them that it's a better idea to improve computer support for mathematics than to restandardise mathematics.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43627697)

Just a note—sin^2(x) cannot be sin(sin(x)) because that is a datatype error. The input is an angle, the output is a ratio. They don't have the same domain, and hence the function cannot be iterated. Because of its utility in trig proofs, sin^2(x) was introduced as a form of syntactic sugar, much like Python's slice operators or C's array subscripts. (Although to be fair the formal notion of functions wasn't well-standardized at the time, and it actually was a unary operator when introduced.) It helps to regard sin^2 as a discrete trigonometric function and not simply a sine function being squared.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628691)

Sorry, but no. Canonically the arguments of trig functions are given in radians, so plain numbers. Compounded trig functions are thus perfectly fine.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (5, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#43629091)

Just a note—sin^2(x) cannot be sin(sin(x)) because that is a datatype error.

You just showed that you don't know enough mathematics.

The input to the sine function is not an angle, it is a real or complex number. If real, this number often (but not always!) describes some angle. If complex, it obviously won't describe an angle.

The sine function is defined as

sin x = (exp(i x) - exp(-i x)) / (2i)

where i is the imaginary number, and exp(x) is defined by the series

exp x = 1 + x + x^2/2 + ... + x^n/n! + ...

Note that, since the convergence radius of the exponential series is infinite, and the sine is just a linear combination of exponentials, the sine is defined on all complex numbers. Since it is complex-valued, sin sin x is indeed well defined for all complex numbers x.

Moreover, if you restrict the sine to real numbers (that is, only accept real numbers), you still have a well defined sin sin x, because the real sine function is also real-valued (more exactly, its values are restricted to the interval [-1,1]).

Also, the output is in general not a rational number (the only thing you could have meant with "ratio" that makes sense in this context).

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43629783)

You've argued effectively that the domains of the input and output of trigonometric functions are unbounded, but not against the interpretation of their meanings. Complex angles occur in total internal reflection, for example.

Even if sin sin x is well-defined, it doesn't have any natural utility. I'd be really surprised (but interested!) if you could show me an example of it being used in a proof.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629301)

Just a note—sin^2(x) cannot be sin(sin(x)) because that is a datatype error. The input is an angle, the output is a ratio. They don't have the same domain, and hence the function cannot be iterated.

This is factually wrong. The sin of any real number is a real number. There are no "angle" or "ratio" datatypes. Just real numbers. You can start at any real number and keep iterating forever and the result will always be defined.

You're probably thinking of the fact that 30 degrees is not equal to 30. It's not, but that doesn't mean it isn't real - in fact it is equal to just over a half.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627761)

My fellow AC, have you ever thought that maths isn't just for 1337 postgrads and professors pushing the world further? Pretty much everyone gets to learn trigonometry and many also learn more advanced topics, too. And when the language of logic, reason and rigorous work is inconsistent while asking its pupils to be consistent it's the very definition of hypocrisy.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629063)

It is pretty consistent though, and if you see it as not, you either didn't learn math that well or the author of what you are reading did a bad job. The original poster made a comparison to C++ getting a standard (even though some of the math ISO standards are 5+ years older...), that doesn't prevent some idiot or sloppy person from writing horrible, difficult to read code that is ambiguous. A little experience you can write and read math expressions that are unambiguous.

Besides, once you get to the advanced level of math, the whole point of math is being able to take different sets of definitions and abstractions, and extract properties from them. As long as everything is well defined, the symbols shouldn't matter that much anyways...

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627461)

many authors use trigonometric functions like operators to avoid writing parentheses, but without formally specifying the binding/precedence level. So when one reads "sin^2 x*y" does that mean "(sin(x)^2)y" or "sin(x*y)^2" or "sin(sin(x))*y" or "sin(sin(x*y))"? The list goes on.

Why would it be anything other than the "sin(x*y)^2"?
This is why we need MathML...
From the formatting it should be obvious what it is.

The author always defines what N actually means. Guessing from the context you are using it in N is the count.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (1)

chithanh (1921670) | about a year ago | (#43630381)

So when one reads "sin^2 x*y" does that mean "(sin(x)^2)y" or "sin(x*y)^2" or "sin(sin(x))*y" or "sin(sin(x*y))"? The list goes on.

Why would it be anything other than the "sin(x*y)^2"?

Because in other contexts, (f^2)(x) means f(f(x)). And there is sin^(-1) which is a popular way to denote the arcsine. So the superscript after a function can mean totally different things which the compiler will have to figure out from the context. Concerning x*y see my other reply further below.

The author always defines what N actually means. Guessing from the context you are using it in N is the count.

The problem is not that it isn't properly defined, the problem is that it is not consistent.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629105)

Oh my! How ignorant your post is to math, Sir (or Madam)! You probably never use higher level math, as in the topology or integration or limit. Now, if you think that everything should be expressible under ASCII and easily readable by humans, pray tell, how you could express:
1. Integration and limits or related symbols (e.g., area integration)
2. Absolute vs. vector length
3. Set theory symbols (membership, subset, etc.)
4. Logic symbols (and, or, xor are easy, how about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_logic_symbols [wikipedia.org] )
5. Convolution related symbols

The list goes on and on and before long the equation WILL be very unwieldy. So, before posting, please think over the problem carefully.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627135)

There already is an ISO standard for such things, for example [iso.org] . For 99% of the stuff, there are standard symbols and usage is pretty consistent, at worse differing across between two large, historically separate fields, but otherwise consistent as two dialects.Much of it you would have trouble changing or causing to "die" because of how long and consistent the use has been.

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627611)

You sound like a typical fat, slobbering and stupid american: speak English or die!

Re:Math symbols are so archaic so who gives a F (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628347)

Lol. I can't believe how many comments were posted, and not a single one picked up that it was a deliberate troll (though I guess some mods did), if you have any doubt about it being a troll just look at the name of the poster. It is a pretty crude troll, but clearly effective.

i love firefox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627141)

I love this browser is, let me to experience better results, such as google.com, kooyi.com, facebook.com

Mozilla? Pff.. who cares? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627373)

When Chrome devs sneeze and accidentally create some flimsy new voice API that does things remotely anyway, the web gives them a shoulder rub.

When Chrome devs give up and fork their browser, that's a big thumbs up.

When Opera gives up the ghost and chooses Google's engine, it's "good job, Google!"

But when Mozilla listens to users and shrinks their memory usage to the point where Chrome can't even compete, "who cares"?

When Mozilla diligently catches up in Javascript performance, even overtaking Google with a clever stopgap solution for improving Javascript, "who cares"?

When Mozilla proves they've solidified a piece of web tech that many people already rely on, "who cares?"

Apparently, Mozilla could be the best browser on earth and people would still scoff at it for not being Google's.

Re:Mozilla? Pff.. who cares? (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#43627539)

When Mozilla proves they've solidified a piece of web tech that many people already rely on, "who cares?"

Define "many". Before today, as a geek and a software developer, I've never heard of MathML before. Now that I have heard about it, and know what it's for, I find it completely useless to me, and I suspect the vast majority of people. I think that a tiny fraction of a percent of people will find MathML useful.

LOL! What a bunch a losers! (0)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year ago | (#43627447)

> 'Google developers forked Webkit and decided to remove from Blink all the code (including MathML) on which they don't plan to work in the short term.'"

Haha! What a bunch of losers. Psssst! What's he talking about?

Re:LOL! What a bunch a losers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627961)

Quotations from Eric Seidel (Google) on the MathML bug:

"We should not keep code in Blink which we're not compiling/don't plan to compile soon. This includes MathML. Many changes are going on the in rendering tree right now. Keeping the rendering tree to just the code we're shipping is important."

"Since the WebKit MathML code is not being actively developed by anyone in Blink, and is compiled off, it is being removed at this time."

Why bloat my browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627591)

Why bloat the browser with something that 0.00000000000001% of pages need. Pages that need math symbols can use MathJax (http://www.mathjax.org/) or similar. No need to build this into the browser.

Re:Why bloat my browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629689)

Hey, if I want to brag about how close 5^(4333/6092) is to and do so with magnificent fonts, THAT'S MY FUCKING CHOICE.
If you don't give a fuck about how the fonts look, go ahead and use MathJax.

With or without cheats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628089)

Did firefox use some hardcoded font hack to pass an older acid (3?) test?

if you want MathMl enabled in Chrome (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#43628277)

if you want MathMl enabled in Chrome click the star in Issue 152430 [google.com] to register interest

How does this affect me *now*? (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a year ago | (#43628331)

What benefit does this give to me now, at this moment? Probably little if any.

.
On the other hand, it would be really nice if the Firefox developers fixed their proxy issues, and fixed the javascript engine choking on sites.

The problem with the testerone-induced rapid development cycle is that it apparently leads to a lot of bravado (we're better than Chrome") and little ongoing maintenance of browsing issues.

Me me me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629305)

Oh boo hoo. They spent a few minutes or maybe (gasp!) hours perfecting their MathML support, so I'm going to point at that and cry.

Forget that the bulk of their effort is on other things, like for instance, spending the last two years modernizing their Javascript engine so that it now is about as performant as V8's, is still more standards compliant, and so forth.

What's important is that they took a tiny bit of time to fix MathML! That's not allowed!

I was told there would be no math! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628349)

I come here to Slashdot to watch bickering basement dwellers argue about who knows more about some arcane technology, not do math. // or as the Brits would say, "maths"

Opera is worse today than in 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43629575)

2 years ago, Opera was one of the closest to getting the face right.

With the last version of Opera to use its own rendering engine, it's an abysmal failure.

Nice regression, guys. No wonder your boss said to throw your work away.

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