Announcing Metanorma support for TeX math

Author’s picture Nick Nicholas on 29 May 2019

Until recently, Metanorma has only processed AsciiMath and MathML. Now Metanorma also accepts some WYSIWYM methods for writing mathematical formulas.

These are generally the WYSIWYM methods for writing mathematical formulas:

Metanorma uses AsciiMath by default

AsciiMath, that most elegant, parsimonious, human-readable and human-pleasing format (why yes, your humble wizard is biased), is recognised by default. anything inside of a stem macro or stem block is assumed by default to be in AsciiMath:

This is an inline formula in AsciiMath: stem:[sum_(i=1)^n i^3=((n(n+1))/2)^2]

This is a formula block in AsciiMath:

[stem]
++++
sum_(i=1)^n i^3=((n(n+1))/2)^2
++++

MathML is the canonical math format used in Metanorma

MathML (ISO 40314:2016) is not parsimonious or human-readable, but it is widespread, well-supported, and a very complete math language.

In fact, by default Metanorma converts all math into in MathML inside Metanorma XML. But notice how verbose (and less readable) it is compared with AsciiMath.

Metanorma will also recognize MathML injected into a stem macro or block, provided the root element is <math>.

The is a formula block in MathML:

[stem]
++++
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<math xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML" display="block">
  <munderover>
    <mo>∑</mo>
    <mrow>
      <mi>i</mi><mo>=</mo><mn>1</mn>
    </mrow>
    <mi>n</mi>
  </munderover>
  <msup><mi>i</mi><mn>3</mn></msup>
  <mo>=</mo>
  <msup>
    <mfenced open="(" close=")">
      <mfrac>
        <mrow>
          <mi>n</mi>
          <mfenced open="(" close=")">
            <mrow><mi>n</mi><mo>+</mo><mn>1</mn></mrow>
          </mfenced>
        </mrow>
        <mn>2</mn>
      </mfrac>
    </mfenced>
    <mn>2</mn>
  </msup>
</math>
++++
Note
You can keep AsciiMath (prevent its conversion to MathML) through the document attribute :mn-keep-asciimath:, or the metanorma option metanorma --asciimath.

Enter TeX math!

TeX math is processed by Metanorma into MathML
Figure 1. TeX math is processed by Metanorma as MathML

TeX math is now fully supported by Metanorma. Metanorma AsciiDoc allows you to mix AsciiMath and TeX math in the same document. By default, it converts both to MathML.

Following the convention set in AsciiDoc, you can indicate that a mathematical expression is TeX math or AsciiMath, in these two ways.

Using TeX math with AsciiMath

You can enter TeX math using the [latexmath] style attribute, instead of [stem] with AsciiMath.

// `latexmath:[...]` must be kept on a single line
The is an inline TeX formula
latexmath:[\displaystyle{\sum_{{{i}={1}}}^{{n}}}{i}^{3}={\left(\frac{{{n}{\left({n}+{1}\right)}}}{{2}}\right)}^{2}]

This is a TeX math block:

[latexmath]
++++
\displaystyle{\sum_{{{i}={1}}}^{{n}}}{i}^{3}={\left(\frac{{{n}{\left({n}+{1}\right)}}}{{2}}\right)}^{2}
++++

Using TeX math everywhere

By setting the document attribute :stem: latexmath, all [stem] expressions are taken as being TeX math instead of AsciiMath.

In this case, you need to use [asciimath] to indicate that a mathematical expression is in AsciiMath.

// again, `stem:[...]` must be kept on a single line
This is an inline TeX formula:
stem:[\displaystyle{\sum_{{{i}={1}}}^{{n}}}{i}^{3}={\left(\frac{{{n}{\left({n}+{1}\right)}}}{{2}}\right)}^{2}]

This is a TeX math block:

[stem]
++++
\displaystyle{\sum_{{{i}={1}}}^{{n}}}{i}^{3}={\left(\frac{{{n}{\left({n}+{1}\right)}}}{{2}}\right)}^{2}
++++

And this is an inline AsciiMath formula:
asciimath:[sum_(i=1)^n i^3=((n(n+1))/2)^2]
Note
Read more about mathematical expressions in AsciiDoc.

Under the hood: TeX math in Metanorma

Now, to convert TeX math to MathML, and make it usable downstream, your system needs to be able to process TeX math.

Under the hood, Metanorma uses LaTeXML, developed at the National Institute for Science and Technology by Dr. Bruce Miller. Best tool that outputs XML representation of TeX documents.

Note
The specific command Metanorma uses for LaTeXML is latexmlmath --preload=amsmath — -.

Caveats on Windows

As usual, there is something extra that Windows users need to be aware of.

On Windows, it is important to use UTF-8 encoding in the cmd shell, otherwise TeX math will not be processed correctly.

To ensure that cmd is using UTF-8 encoding, make sure you execute this command before processing any documents with TeX math in them under Metanorma:

chcp 65001

Conclusion

The Metanorma installation automatically installs LaTeXML for you and allows TeX math to be used immediately.

Most TeX math packages are already supported by LaTeXML, there is no TeX distribution necessary at all.

Feel free to TeX your math away in Metanorma!

Note
Pssst…​ we also helped LaTeXML create the LaTeXML Chocolatey package to reciprocate their team’s kindness in working with us!