(Excerpt from "The MathML Handbook" by Pavi Sandhu)

MathML is an ideal format for mathematical software applications to communicate with each other and with other applications (such as Web browsers, word processors, and e-mail clients). This is hardly surprising since MathML was specifically designed to facilitate the exchange and reuse of mathematical content between such applications. As support for MathML becomes more widespread, it should soon be possible to copy and paste mathematical notation between different applications as routinely and easily as one can do for text.

Most of the leading mathematical software applications, such as Mathematica, Maple, Mathcad, and Scientific Workplace, already include support for MathML in some form. You can export a document that’s in the native file format of any of these applications into HTML and automatically convert any mathematical formulas in the document into MathML. This allows technical documents authored using any of these applications to be displayed in Web browsers that support the display of MathML.

In the past, each of these applications could use only its own proprietary format for encoding mathematics. Hence, users of different applications could not easily share their work with each other. This situation is starting to change with the advent of MathML. For example, using MathML, you can now directly copy equations out of Maple and e-mail them to another user, who can then paste and evaluate them in Mathematica.

Recent versions of Mathematica (Version 4.2 or later) and Maple (Version 7 or later) include menu commands and functions that allow users to freely convert between their native syntax for mathematical expressions and MathML. This makes it possible to perform a wide variety of computations on MathML-encoded input (such as calculating integrals, solving equations, or plotting graphs). Mathematica and Maple thus provide a good model for how you can use MathML to facilitate mathematical communication.

Mathcad and Scientific Workplace, in contrast, do not currently allow you to import MathML equations for evaluation or to manipulate and transform MathML. The rest of this chapter, therefore, focuses on Mathematica and Maple, since these are the two applications that currently provide the most sophisticated support for MathML.


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