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Re: [Axiom-developer] OpenMath

From: Mike Dewar
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] OpenMath
Date: Thu, 13 May 2004 15:40:57 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.4.1i

On Thu, May 13, 2004 at 09:47:00AM -0400, Tim Daly wrote:
> Where can I get the new library?
There isn't one as yet.  I don't know whether a library similar to the
old INRIA one will be produced, the world has moved on and people tend
to be using OpenMath much more as a document format than an interchange
mechanism.  For those that do want to use it as an interchange
mechanism, Java libraries that use mechanisms like SOAP, XML-RPC etc.
are more useful than the old TCP/IP-based one.  
> MMA uses ascii text as their notebook representation. It would be useful
> to generate "compatible" input/output so we could use the same front-end.
> However, the front-end is closed, proprietary, and expensive. Donating
> the representation of the math to W3C doesn't address the real issue.
I'd have thought that it did.  Everything else that you need is already
freely available in browsers, implemented according to defined or
de-facto standards.  You can do text layout in XHTML, implement fancy
folding menus with javascript, handle graphics with plug-ins to get
interactivity and render the Maths with MathML.  If you want a hard-copy
on the other hand, then its very easy to write an XSL stylesheet to
produce LaTeX from your original document, or you can probably find
existing tools to do this on the web.  This isn't fantasy by the way,
its exactly what we are doing at NAG with our documentation and its
proving very successful.

> Thus I'm left with no choice but to waste a year of my life drawing
> pretty pictures of characters on a screen. OpenMath and MathML only
> address a very small portion of the problem and, worse yet, add limits
> to the data representation I can choose. 
I don't see how they limit your data representation, especially since
they are both based on XML and thats just Lisp with fancy brackets :-)

>                                          And I don't see how to carry
> Axiom's Types in OpenMath's data representation. Another incompatible
You use the OMATTR constructor to attribute the object with its Axiom
type.  (In OpenMath 2 you can make this stronger by declaring it to be a
semantic attribute.)  MathML has an element called "semantics" which
allows you to do a similar thing, there is a whole document devoted to
this problem at

> notebook simply fragments the computational mathematics domain into
> yet another pointless "camp". Believe me, I'd much rather spend my 
> time using other people's work and get on with making the math better.
Thats why if I were in your position I would try and use generic
technologies inside a browser, rather than do something ad-hoc.

> frustrated in ny,
> Tim

Cheers, Mike (optimistic in Oxford :-) ).

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