Advanced language technologies for mathematical markup

Saturday, December 9, 2006 - 4:00pm - 4:30pm
EE/CS 3-180
Olga Caprotti (University of Helsinki)
Mathematical markup languages like OpenMath and MathML offer the possibility to represent mathematical content in a level of abstraction that is not dependent on localized information. This representation typically focuses on the semantics of the mathematical object and postpones localization aspects of mathematics, such as those influenced by notation and by culture, to the rendering process of the markup. While typesetting of mathematical markup has been the object of a numerous efforts, from MathML-presentation to SVG converters, the rendering of mathematics in a verbalized jargon has not yet received similar attention. In this talk, I will present the results of the WebALT EU eContent project concerning the application of language technologies to the automatic generation of text from mathematical markup.

Mathematical jargon is an important aspect of the education of students. Not only does a teacher train pupils in problem solving skills, but she also makes sure that they acquire a proper way of expressing mathematical concepts. To our knowledge, digital eLearning resources have used a representation in which text is intermixed with mathematical expressions even in situations where the actual abstract representation, for instance of the statement of a theorem, can be reduced to a single mathematical object. One reason for this representation choice is that the rendering process would otherwise produce a symbolic, typeset mathematical formula that might prove too difficult to understand for the students or simply just too hard to read. However, by representing this kind of mathematical text in a language-independent format such as the one provided by markup languages, it is possible to apply language technologies that generate the same text in a variety of languages including English, Spanish, Finnish, Swedish, French and Italian.

The project results include editors for mathematical multilingual markup, a web service for generating multiple languages versions and a digital repository of multilingual interactive mathematical exercises and drill questions.