\centerline{\bf barbara speaks}
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I found the coverage of the various \SGML-related meetings to be
very interesting, especially as I have been for several years a member
of the \ISO\ standards committee from which the \SGML\ standard emerged,
and (long) before that a member of the committee of the Graphic
Communications Association (GCA) in the days when GenCode (a
spiritual precursor of \SGML) first began to be defined. In the
US, I'm also a member of the \ANSI\ technical committee that has
jurisdiction over both \SGML{} and ODA. (However, the task group
I actually belong to is working on a font standard, not on any of
the document-level standards.)
I found it quite interesting that the ODA folks are trying to sneak
``Open'' into the name. This is all very well, except that the \ISO\
documents all still say ``Office'', and I don't believe that approval
has yet been given officially to the change. Yes, the intent is to
support ``open'' interchange (whatever that is), but the fact is, the
source of the concepts on which ODA is based really is the office,
and there are certain limitations that publishers find unacceptable.
But that's not what I really wanted to talk about. The topic that
interests me here is the concept that a system of math coding can be
devised that can be both input to algebraic manipulation systems
{\it and\/} used to publish the results of such manipulation in
documents that are paragons of the (mathematical) typesetter's art.
One of the organizations investigating this area is Euromath, a
consortium of European national mathematics organizations. Euromath
has requested funds from the European Community. One of the EC's
requirements is that development of tools of this sort be based on
International Standards (read \ISO). (Some individuals associated with
Euromath would like very much to use \TeX, but \TeX, though more tightly
defined than most International Standards, is not itself an International
Standard. And, in fact, I shudder to think what would happen if \TeX{}
were placed at the mercy of a Standards Committee; the results might
be very interesting, but I doubt very much that they would be \TeX!
But I digress.) The most promising existing International Standard on
which to base the development of a multi-purpose mathematical notation
seems to be \SGML; I happen to agree with this analysis, as both
mathematical notation and \SGML{} are highly structured in an essential
way. In any event, I believe that work may actually be underway
shortly on studying the problems in devising suitable notation.
Paul Ellison of Exeter University is familiar with what is going on, and is much
closer to the center of activity than I, so he should be in a good position to
provide an update.
I would also like to reiterate that \SGML{} isn't a composition
language; was never meant to be one. More than one successful \SGML{}
front end has generated publications through a \TeX{} back end, and
where mathematical notation is involved, it's still the best
combination I've seen, if you can't start with \TeX.
\author{barbara beeton}
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