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The future of mathematics editing on Wikipedia[edit]

It seems that the WMF is unable to provide resources for development of mathematics rendering and editing software on Wikipedia and that it will be dependent on volunteer effort [1]: indeed it seems that mathematics is not "on the roadmap for the foreseeable future" [2]. It also seems that WMF leadership and staff are quite happy with this situation. I find that hugely disappointing, not to say incomprehensible, and indeed personally I think it's quite insulting.

Mathematics is one of the oldest continuing human intellectual traditions, with a connected history of over two thousand years. It is fundamental to the sciences in general: no technological endeavour could succeed without it. It is an indispensible part of the sum of human knowledge. To suggest that it isn't important enough to allocate resources to, when WMF has over 200 staff and tens of millions of dollars at its disposal, is a decision I find both incomprehensible and potentially diastrous. It seems that WMF would rather allocate its resources to make it easier for readers to view the pornography on Commons than the formulae on Wikipedia. It certainly tells me that the views and values of WMF and myself are now radically divergent. I thought it was about the sum of human knowledge. Apparently that sum does not involve mathematics.

Given that mathematics is not on the roadmap, there must be a significant risk that mathematics rendering and editing will not be sustained: that changes made elsewhere in the software to support the changes towards the more modern user experience desired by the Board will degrade or just break mathematics editing or rendering unexpectedly and that resources will not be available to fix it. Of course, I don't know that's going to happen, I just see no reason for it not to, so there's no way I can affect that at present.

The nature and direction of WMF[edit]

The WMF have an annual income of some $50 million, and a staff of around 200. It seems that they can afford such software projects as Media Viewer, which more-or-less works, although it is deeply unpopular wth editors; Visual Editor, which is about half finished after only two years of planning and coding; and Flow, which is stalled and is having to be redesigned from its hugely over-ambitious original plans. They cannot afford to put any effort into mathematics: the mathematics component of VE was a student project, mathematics currently does not work under Flow.

WMF have a disturbing culture which combines lack of planning and documentation with lack of interest in volunteers. The result is poorly planned, poorly executed software. In my experience, attempts by the volunteer community to engage at an early stage have been met with reactions ranging from sympathetic inaction, through sulky hostility, to dishonesty. My attempts to engage in a rethink of the community processes have been derailed by the aggression of one particular staff member.

So what now?[edit]

The WMF Board desire a new direction for the WMF projects, and the Board chair is happy for us to leave [3]. I have come to the conclusion that this is the only way forward.

Anyone who is interesting in forking the mathematics content, possibly to Encyclopedia of Mathematics, is invited to contact me.


  1. Algebraic matroid
  2. Analytic subgroup theorem
  3. Arakawa–Kaneko zeta function‎
  4. Arithmetic number
  5. Barban–Davenport–Halberstam theorem (ß)
  6. Bauerian extension
  7. Biquaternion algebra
  8. Brauer–Wall group
  9. Casas-Alvero conjecture
  10. Conductor of an elliptic curve
  11. Critical exponent of a word
  12. Davenport constant
  13. Delone set
  14. Descartes number (ß)
  15. Diamond theorem
  16. Distribution (number theory)
  17. Éléments de mathématique
  18. Fabry gap theorem (ß)
  19. Factor system (ß)
  20. Genus of a quadratic form
  21. Gowers norm
  22. Hasse derivative (ß)
  23. Hasse invariant of an algebra (ß)
  24. Height zeta function
  25. Hilbert field
  26. Hurwitz problem
  27. Irrationality sequence
  28. Kneser's theorem
  29. Kneser's theorem (combinatorics)
  30. Lattice (module)
  31. Lehmer's totient problem‎
  32. Linearised polynomial
  33. Linked field
  34. Local language (formal language)
  35. Mahler's 3/2 problem
  36. Minkowski's second theorem
  37. Minkowski space (number field)
  38. Monoid factorisation
  39. Mordellic variety
  40. Morphic word
  41. Moufang set
  42. Multipartition
  43. Multiplicative sequence (ß)
  44. Mutation (algebra)
  45. Nagao's theorem (ß)
  46. Nevanlinna invariant
  47. Ostrowski numeration
  48. Perfectoid
  49. Potential good reduction
  50. Pseudo-canonical variety
  51. Pythagoras number
  52. Quadratically closed field
  53. Quaternionic structure
  54. Rational monoid
  55. Rational series
  56. Ruelle zeta function
  57. Sesquipower
  58. Siegel identity
  59. Spectrum of a sentence
  60. Spinor genus
  61. Splicing rule
  62. Steinberg symbol
  63. Superelliptic curve
  64. Symbol (mathematics)
  65. Theta group
  66. Turán's method (ß)
  67. U-invariant
  68. Unavoidable pattern
  69. Van der Corput's method (ß)
  70. Weak approximation
  71. Zimmert set