Maths on the web solved!
Why didn’t anybody tell me?
I remember staring at the first drafts of the MathML definition almost two decades ago and obsessively clicking “reload” for checking the next browser version to implement it. After the web had facilated communication around the globe in various human languages and alphabets, I eagerly awaited support for that single, universal language that made it all work: mathematics.
Alas, it didn’t happen. Since then, I’ve revisited current standards and adoption states for maths on the web every few years. The situation was dismal.
For years, everybody has been able to read, write, and communicate “square root of two” with all kinds of funny squiggles: “roten ur två”, “квадратный корень из двух”, “השורש הריבועי שלשְׁתַּ֫יִם”, “二的平方根”. But try to put the symbol “2” under the radical √ on the web? No way. As the information age progressed, we became unable to communicate in its underlying language, because the web suddenly became the playground of nonmathematical people.
Turns out: instead of bitching about it, somebody solved it. Just like that.
Since recently, it works on Wikipedia! As of May 2012, log in, go to “my preferences”, choose the “appearance” tab, and select MathJax as your default rendering engine for maths at the bottom. Then, go to some page like Tutte Polynomial; and feast your eyes. Increase the font size just because you can!
On the MathJax page you can see which other websites support it. This looks like a very healthy system.