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Issues in defining an equations representation standard (RFC1003)

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000001806D
Original Publication Date: 1987-Mar-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2002-Jan-29
Document File: 13 page(s) / 19K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

A.R. Katz: AUTHOR

Abstract

Since the early days of the Arpanet, electronic mail has been in wide use and many regard it as an essential tool. Numerous mailing lists and newsgroups have sprung up over the years, allowing large numbers of people all over the world to participate remotely in discussions on a variety of topics. More recently, multimedia mail systems have been developed which allow users to not only send and receive text messages, but also those containing voice, bitmaps, graphics, and other electronic media.

This text was extracted from an ASCII text file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 18% of the total text.

Network Working Group                                          Alan Katz

Request for Comments: 1003                                       USC/ISI

                                                              March 1987

        Issues in Defining an Equations Representation Standard

Status of This Memo

    This memo is intended to identify and explore issues in defining a

    standard for the exchange of mathematical equations.  No attempt is

    made at a complete definition and more questions are asked than are

    answered.  Questions about the user interface are only addressed to

    the extent that they affect interchange issues.  Comments are

    welcome.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

I.  Introduction

    Since the early days of the Arpanet, electronic mail has been in

    wide use and many regard it as an essential tool.  Numerous mailing

    lists and newsgroups have sprung up over the years, allowing large

    numbers of people all over the world to participate remotely in

    discussions on a variety of topics.  More recently, multimedia mail

    systems have been developed which allow users to not only send and

    receive text messages, but also those containing voice, bitmaps,

    graphics, and other electronic media.

    Most of us in the Internet community take electronic mail for

    granted, but for the rest of the world, it is a brand new

    capability.  Many are not convinced that electronic mail will be

    useful for them and may also feel it is just an infinite time sink

    (as we all know, this is actually true).  In particular, most

    scientists (apart from computer scientists) do not yet use, or are

    just beginning to use, electronic mail.

    The current NSF supercomputer initiative may change this.  Its

    primary purpose is to provide remote supercomputer access to a much

    greater number of scientists across the country.  However, doing

    this will involve the interconnection of many university-wide

    networks to NSF supercomputer sites and therefore to the NSF

    backbone network.  Thus, in the very near future we will have a

    large number of scientists in the country suddenly able to

    communicate via electronic mail.

    Generally, text-only mail has sufficed up until now.  One can dream

    of the day (not so far in the future) when everyone will have

    bitmapped display workstations with multimedia mail systems, but we

    can get by without it for now.  I believe, however, that the new NSF

    user community will find one other capability almost essential in

    making electronic mail useful to them, and that is the ability to

Katz                                                            [Page 1]

RFC 1003                                                      March 1987

    include equations in messages.

    A glance through any scientific journal will demonstrate the

    importance of equations in scientific communication.  Indeed, papers

    in some fields seem to contain more mathematics than English.  It is

    hard to imagine that when people in these fields are connected into

    an electronic mail community they will be satisfied with a mail

    system which doesn't allow equations.  Indeed, with the advent of

    the NSF's Experimental Research in Electronic Submission (EXPRESS)

    project, scientists will begin submitting manuscripts and project

    proposals directly through electronic mail and the ability to handl...