Report of the Workshop on Environments for Computational Mathematics (RFC1019)
Original Publication Date: 1987-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-15
Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)
This memo is a report on the discussion of the representation of equations in a workshop at the ACM SIGGRAPH Conference held in Anaheim, California on 30 July 1987.
Network Working Group D. Arnon Request for Comments: 1019 Xerox PARC September 1987
Report of the Workshop on Environments for Computational Mathematics July 30, 1987 ACM SIGGRAPH Conference Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California
Status of This Memo
This memo is a report on the discussion of the representation of equations in a workshop at the ACM SIGGRAPH Conference held in Anaheim, California on 30 July 1987. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
Since the 1950’s, many researchers have worked to realize the vision of natural and powerful computer systems for interactive mathematical work. Nowadays this vision can be expressed as the goal of an integrated system for symbolic, numerical, graphical, and documentational mathematical work. Recently the development of personal computers (with high resolution screens, window systems, and mice), high-speed networks, electronic mail, and electronic publishing, have created a technological base that is more than adequate for the realization of such systems. However, the growth of separate Mathematical Typesetting, Multimedia Electronic Mail, Numerical Computation, and Computer Algebra communities, each with its own conventions, threatens to prevent these systems from being built.
To be specific, little thought has been given to unifying the different expression representations currently used in the different communities. This must take place if there is to be interchange of mathematical expressions among Document, Display, and Computation systems. Also, tools that are wanted in several communities (e.g., WYSIWYG mathematical expression editors), are being built independently by each, with little awareness of the duplication of effort that thereby occurs. Worst of all, the ample opportunities for cross-fertilization among the different communities are not being exploited. For example, some Computer Algebra systems explicitly associate a type with a mathematical expression (e.g., 3 x 3 matrix of polynomials with complex number coefficients), which could enable automated math proofreaders, analogous to spelling checkers.
The goal of the Workshop on Environments for Computational Mathematics was to open a dialogue among representatives of the
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RFC 1019 September 1987
Computer Algebra, Numerical Computation, Multimedia Electronic Mail, and Mathematical Typesetting communities. In July 1986, during the Computers and Mathematics Conference at Stanford University, a subset of this year’s participants met at Xerox PARC to discuss User Interfaces for Computer Algebra Systems. This group agreed to hold future meetings, of which the present Workshop is the first. Alan Katz’s recent essay, "Issues in Defining an Equations Representation Standard", RFC-1003, DDN Network Information Center, March 1987 (reprinted in the ACM SIGSAM Bulletin May 1987, pp. 19-24), influenced the discussion at the Workshop, especially since it discusses the interchange of mathematical expressions.