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W3C MathML 3.0 Approved as ISO/IEC International Standard


As Secretariat of ISO/IEC JTC 1, ANSI is Proud to Announce Continued Successful Collaboration with W3C

Today the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), together with Joint Technical Committee JTC 1, Information Technology of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), announced approval of the MathML Version 3.0 2nd Edition as an ISO/IEC International Standard (ISO/IEC 40314:2015).

MathML is the mark-up language used in software and development tools for statistical, engineering, scientific, computational, and academic expressions of math on the Web. The Mathematical Markup Language provides ways to describe in XML both the visual presentation of formulas (with mathematical symbols, built-up formulas, and font styles) and their semantics (with reference to different domains of mathematics). Its first version, MathML 1, was released in 1999.

"This important scientific standard, which is already widely deployed internationally, can now benefit from additional formal recognition from ISO, IEC, and their national member bodies," noted Dr. Jeff Jaffe, W3C CEO. "The ISO/IEC recognition is expected to increase internationally harmonized adoption of MathML not only by standards bodies, governments, and the scientific and academic communities, but also by browser makers, educational publishers, and the broader Web community."

"ISO/IEC JTC 1 is very pleased to have the opportunity to take the important work of the W3C and have it transposed into formally approved ISO/IEC Standards," said Karen Higginbottom, ISO/IEC JTC 1 Chair. "We are pleased to continue the strong and constructive relationship between our organizations."

"As Secretariat of ISO/IEC JTC 1, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is very proud of the successful collaboration between ISO/IEC JTC 1 and W3C," said Lisa Rajchel, ISO/IEC JTC 1 Secretary. "Approval of the W3C specifications once again demonstrates strong cooperation between the formal standards process and consortia."

MathML: A rich and powerful language

Because HTML was invented in a scientific laboratory, formulas in HTML were one of the earliest extensions proposed. Early experiments, such as HTML in 1993, led to the first version of MathML in 1998. MathML has been gaining support ever since, although it took until 2014 and the fifth version of HTML before math became a standard part of HTML, rather than an optional extra. MathML can now be used both on its own, as before, or embedded in HTML.

An important goal in making MathML a required part of HTML is to make scientific articles or educational material interactive. A formula is no longer just an image - you can interact with it right in the browser or other document viewer: e.g. copy and paste the formula into an equation solver and see the solution, point a graph plotter at the document and see the formula visualized, let a student solve arithmetic exercises right in the browser, etc.

MathML is an important asset for the semantic Web. It can not only describe the visual, two-dimensional structure of a built-up formula, but also its semantics relative to different mathematical models, thanks to its integration of standard "dictionaries" from the OpenMath Society. Different branches of mathematics often use similar-looking formulas, so some disambiguation makes automatic interpretation a lot easier.

"This ISO standard is very timely," said Dr. Bert Bos, Math Activity Lead at W3C. "MathML 3.0 improves accessibility authoring capabilities such as speech output. It continues to be the most successful interchange format between the major mathematical software packages, and is now on its way to become the lingua franca for all mathematics on the Web because of its recent inclusion in HTML5 and the Open Web Platform."

The benefits of collaboration for interoperability

W3C has developed processes and policies that promote the development of high-quality, consensus-driven, royalty-free standards, many of which power the Web and enterprise computing. The ISO and IEC imprimatur increases the avenues for adoption of W3C technology and guidelines, which in turn will increase deployment, reduce fragmentation, and provide all users with greater interoperability.

MathML 3.0 was submitted to the ISO/IEC JTC 1 process for Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) in July 2014. W3C has been an approved JTC 1 PAS Submitter since November 2010, and is one of eleven organizations that are currently approved. Under the PAS procedures, organizations recognized as valid PAS Submitters can send their specifications directly to JTC 1 for national body voting to become ISO/IEC International Standards. To learn more about W3C and the ISO/IEC JTC1 PAS Submission process, see the W3C PAS FAQ and the JTC 1 website.

As an ISO/IEC JTC 1 Standard, MathML 3.0 is now also available from ISO/IEC and its national member bodies, including ANSI. JTC 1 recognition neither changes nor supersedes the existing W3C standard, which remains freely available from the W3C website. MathML is the third W3C standard to be recognized by ISO/IEC, after Web Services in 2011 and Web Accessibility Content Guidelines 2.0 in 2012.

W3C also provides a number of supporting resources for developers and users, which are available on the Math Activity page.

About the World Wide Web Consortium

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 400 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the United States, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France, Keio Universityin Japan and Beihang University in China, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see

About JTC 1

The joint technical committee of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology, is a consensus-based, voluntary international standards group that works as a highly productive collaboration between ISO and IEC. More than 3,700 experts from 34 P-member countries come together in JTC 1 to develop mutually beneficial standards that enhance global trade while protecting intellectual property. The U.S. plays a leading role in JTC 1, with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) holding the secretariat and Karen Higginbottom, director of standards initiatives at Hewlett-Packard Company, serving as JTC 1's chair.


Jana Zabinski

Director, Communications and Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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