MINSE: the easiest way to put math on the Web

The goal of this project is to bring the power of mathematical expression to as many people as possible, and as quickly and easily as possible. The proposed medium is a semantic expression notation called MINSE designed for this purpose. But a language alone is not enough: with this design comes a deployed implementation that immediately makes expressions a reality for the scientific and mathematical Internet community.

This implementation shows that it's possible even without any support from browser software. You can insert mathematical expressions directly into your HTML and have them displayed like the image here, which is an example of the output from the prototype renderer.

 View a page containing MINSE now! Just enter the URL here:
Using mathematical and scientific expressions in your Web pages is as easy as typing them in! See a demo. The program which renders expressions is an Internet mediator service, which will perform renderings in real-time. The service has been available to the public since 2 June 1996.

Mathematics for the world

This means that if you put expressions in your documents, they will be accessible to everyone on the Internet, no matter what Web-browsing software they are using. You don't have to install any software, and neither do they.

Moreover, because the notation is semantic, expressions can be rendered to a variety of media, bringing an unprecedented degree of accessibility to mathematics. Efforts have been made to keep the design general enough to apply in other contexts, like chemistry, physics, and economics.

(When the rest of the Web catches up, we won't need to use mediators to convert everything. However, mediators are what make this kind of rapid prototyping and deployment possible.)

Want to get started? Find out how.

Who's doing this?

Ka-Ping Yee. The design of the semantic and rendering languages and the implementation of the mediation service was done over about five months while I was an undergraduate at the University of Waterloo, on exchange in Japan. The project grew out of frustration and impatience with the lack of mathematical support in popular World-Wide Web browsers. Sample output from Maple and TEX was studied to tune the graphical rendering, and some of the ideas used for audio rendering came from T. V. Raman's amazing AsTeR system.

Please feel free to write to me at ping@zesty.ca about MINSE.

updated Sun 8 Dec 2002 at 02:32 SGT