Digital Library of Mathematical Functions
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About MathML

§ Overview

We are using MathML (Mathematical Markup Language), an open, international standard, to represent the mathematical content in the DLMF. The use of the Presentation subset of MathML allows us to present the mathematics in a way less dependent on your screen size and resolution. You can adjust the font size to enlarge or shrink the formula in a way not easily possible with math represented by images. In addition, MathML should provide more opportunities for making the material accessible for those with disabilities. In the future, we also hope to be able to deliver the Content form of MathML, a form which more faithfully preserves the semantic information of the mathematics. This should allow easier reuse of the mathematics, such as copying the formula into other documents, computer algebra systems or other computation engines.

The default document format of the DLMF is HTML5 which includes MathML. Several browsers (see § Browsers supporting MathML) have quite complete MathML coverage and work well with DLMF. When we send HTML5 pages to browsers that do not have complete MathML support, the MathJax javascript library is used to render the MathML. Although slower than native support, and in some cases painfully slow, MathJax nevertheless provides for nicely presented mathematics and improved accessibility.

Some browsers lack both MathML support and a sufficiently speedy or complete javascript implementation capable of running MathJax. In such cases you may wish to visit the Customize DLMF page and choose the HTML+images document format. That format displays mathematics as static images and is neither very scalable nor accessible, but serves as a workable fallback. An XHTML+MathML document format is also available, which does include MathML but does not use MathJax for rendering. Alternatively, of course, you may wish to upgrade or even change the browser you use.

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§ Browsers supporting MathML

We are aware of complete MathML support in the following browsers.

A few other browsers have partial support, which is encouraging, but insufficient for DLMF’s complex material.

Most modern browsers, however, support CSS and Javascript sufficient to run MathJax.

§ Special fonts for MathML

Since the display of mathematics involves many unusual and special symbols, a MathML renderer generally needs a set of special fonts. When a browser cannot find a particular glyph, it typically shows up as a ? or a box like ; if you see these in unexpected places, it may be that the fonts on your system are not sufficient.

As a general rule, using the latest available version of your chosen browser, plugins and an updated operating system is helpful. Check the websites for your browser, plugin and operating system for more information about installing fonts.

Cambria

For windows systems, the Microsoft’s Cambria font is an attractive font which provides good coverage.

STIX

The STIX fonts collection is another worthwhile fontset, available for most systems.

MathPlayer

is usually able to get access to enough fonts for MathML by including them and using Windows system fonts, but see the comment above regarding the Cambria font.

Firefox

generally includes sufficient fonts but installation of the Cambria and/or STIX fonts (see above) can be helpful. Also see MathML-fonts for a convenient add-on providing math fonts to Firefox, or Fonts for MathML-enabled Mozilla for general information and links.

MathJax in InternetExplorer

In some cases, Internet Explorer needs some settings adjusted before MathJax can render properly; see MathJax FAQ.