Philosophy and Technology

Contemporary math publishing

Traditionally, mathematical knowledge is published in printed media like scientific journals or textbooks. Mathematical manuscripts undergo a thorough review and lengthy production process until they appear as scientific books or as articles in research journals. By the very nature of this procedure, the traditional way of disseminating mathematical content is slow and costly. Moreover, a mathematical text can not be changed once it is printed, even if there would be the need for corrections or expansions.

Online archives and e-journals for the mathematical sciences have been around since shortly after the advent of the world wide web. In most of these cases, the internet serves to quickly disseminate mathematical articles around the scientific community before the work actually appears in print. Online available mathematical articles are usually encoded using Adobe PDF, a format which was designed to electronically store data intended for print, not for online viewing.

The approach of Liber Mathematicae

Liber Mathematicae will provide the means to transcend the traditional approach of writing and publishing mathematics into a "culture of participation". More precisely, it is the goal of the Liber Mathematicae project to fully exploit the interactive capabilities of the internet to produce and publish high-quality mathematical content which is dynamic, expandable, correctable, and linkable and to which readers can contribute through commenting, refereeing and authoring via a sophisticated verification process. To achieve this goal, mathematical articles on Liber Mathematicae will be encoded in the markup languages XHTML and MathML with the option to include further XML-derived markup, Java-applets or code connecting to a computer algebra system. MathML has been designed by the Worl Wide Web Consortium as a language to both present and process mathematical content on the internet. Since the standard language in which mathematical articles are written is LaTeX, we use technologies such as LaTeXML and regular expression tools to translate LaTeX into XHTML+MathML. In this process we also supplement the original file with additional information needed for internet-specific features such as dynamic content or links.

It is our intention to further expand the semantic structure of our content and develop tools through which researchers can improve their search through the literature, including the ability to target not only whole articles, but specific theorems or even single statements (e.g. equations). Additionally, we intend to indicate both prerequisite and follow-on material to a given article, allowing an interested party to quickly acquire background knowledge and continue his or her study.