[Wikipedia-l] Parsing TeX

Toby Bartels toby+wikipedia-l at math.ucr.edu
Mon Aug 5 05:55:03 UTC 2002

Jan Hidders wrote:

>Toby Bartels wrote:

>>(Contrary to popular opinion, I've never suggested $$x \le y$$.

>Sorry for that, I started that rumour, it seemed like a logical
>generalization of your idea and as such not a bad suggestion.

>>What I suggested was $$x$$ ≤ $$y$$, which won't fool any TeXer
>>into thinking that it's actual TeX; the markup is merely *inspired* by TeX.

>I would not be so sure: $$ *is* LaTeX mark-up.

Hence the inspiration.  But ≤ is not, much less outside of math mode.
One of the first things that a new TeXer learns is that
the fastest way to an error is writing something like $x$ \le $y$.
Of course, you're a TeXer too, so I should listen if you disagree,
but *I* don't see how anybody will be fooled.

>>The only thing that $$...$$ has over [[math:...]] is in the situation of a
>>very short formula like a single letter, and there it's better to use
>><var> instead of a gif *anyway*.

>I disagree strongly. That would mean that if I have a formula with one
>letter variables and two letter variables the first would be written as
><var> and the second as TeX within the same text. Always using LaTeX will
>look better and is more consistent.

I don't see why we should expect somebody to have a graphical interface
to read "Suppose that $$x$$ is a [[real number]]. Then ...".
That's reasonable for "If $$\int_a^b f(x)\,dx$$ exists, ...",
which is legible to hardly anybody except as a picture,
but the first will be mighty annoying to read if a voice reader
describes it as "image labelled "x"" or something.

There's another reason for having a simple method producing <var>
and a complicated method producing a PNG by calling LaTeX.
LaTeX is hardly more easy for a technophobe to learn than HTML,
and we don't want them to think that they can't edit a math expression
without learning LaTeX.  Tell them that [[math:]] is this huge PITA
(which can't be avoided with an integral) but that $$ is easy as pie.

-- Toby Bartels
   <toby+wikipedia-l at math.ucr.edu>

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