# LaTeX notation for Math

We're going to be talking about physical quantities, mathematical models for aspects of reality, and algorithms for generating aspects of our worlds. So enabling the LaTeX Math feature used by Math.SE would be beneficial for expressing such things clearly and concisely.

• We should ideally cite specific example questions that would be better served by having math support available, as enabling MathJax does come at a certain cost in terms of bandwidth. Compare Amateur Radio, Space Exploration and Astronomy.
– user
Sep 18 '14 at 9:26
• Can that feature be used for IPA symbols? Those might be needed for linguistics questions. Sep 18 '14 at 13:47
• @Stendika Unfortunately it doesn't look like it. LaTeX provides support for IPA but it's through an add-on package that appears to not exist, or not be enabled, in MathJax.
– user
Sep 18 '14 at 20:18
• @Stendika Of course, we can use Unicode for IPA symbols if needed. No MathJax required for that. Look up the IPA Extensions Unicode code block.
– user
Sep 21 '14 at 11:28
• jqMath was used on other SE sites before MathJax was integrated - perhaps this is more appropriate, being more lightweight and simpler than MathJax, at least as a trial? I feel mathematical notation will be inevitable considering the nature of questions here, even if it isn't hard science. Sep 30 '14 at 20:06

We've enabled MathJax on both the main and meta sites. As indicated in editing help, simply use $as a delimiter. Enjoy! • I love you - thanks! <3 Oct 14 '14 at 12:56 • Great! Than you. Oct 14 '14 at 19:42 • That's wonderful - thank you! Now we just need to go through all the links on this page and edit to replace the mathurl links with $. Oct 14 '14 at 22:53
• I see @celtschk has done that already for all the ones that had LaTeX included as alternative/hover text (including mine - thanks for that!). For the others that had awkward looking text equations I've added a comment to let them know about this post. Oct 14 '14 at 23:24

I agree, while writing my answer to the tides question I thought would have been very useful to have formula available.

Also the question about gravity strength. If maths formula were enabled we'd be able to refer to the proper gravitational maths much more easily.

More examples of posts that would be much improved by the availability of MathJax (LaTeX maths formatting):

Here's another question which would benefit from math: I want to be able to put formulas about beam divergence into an answer I'm contemplating.

Here are a few more questions I've come across which would likely benefit from math support.

and possibly:

I think all these questions coming up goes to show that Worldbuilding SE has a legitimate use for having MathJax enabled.

For questions like this one, the lack of good support for math equations makes things difficult to explain or follow. It would be nice to remedy this, especially for hard science answers. The answer calculating real-world numbers needs a way to show the equations and the process of solving the problem.

Although it is less convenient due to having to link off-site, a good compromise until we get MathJax is mathurl.com.

This allows you to edit an equation and then create a link which can be included in your answer as an image. An image link is just like a normal link in an answer except that it is preceded by an exclamation mark. To make it display as an inline image you can append ".png" to the link. This then gives results that match what would be produced if we had MathJax LaTeX support.

As an example of how to get this working, look at the following answer and press edit to see what text was used to achieve the end result:

https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/303/109

Note that as celtschk points out in the comments, it is very useful to use the LaTeX text as the alternative text that will be displayed if there is a problem with the link. This makes your answer more robust, and provides a quick and painless way of converting to native MathJax if we are given this capability in future.

• Good that you say it; I would not have seen that there indeed are formulas in that answer ... I'm using RequestPolicy, but for some reason, it doesn't even give me a red flag symbol I normally get for blocked images. Sep 21 '14 at 9:57
• @celtschk do you mean that the answer worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/303/109 shows no equation in your browser? I would be interested to hear from you and others whether that is the case for various browsers and systems. The equation under the sub heading Requirements shows correctly for me in Firefox on Windows 7. I've also confirmed it works in Internet Explorer. Sep 21 '14 at 10:03
• It shows an equation as soon as I enable mathurl.com in RequestPolicy, but it doesn't show any indication that there's somthing not shown before I do (normally, blocked images are replaced with a red flag, providing me with the information that I have to allow some extra site in order to see it). Anyway, what's worse is that there's no indication in the source what the equation might be, so you are 100% dependent on mathurl.com to even get the information in raw form. Sep 21 '14 at 10:08
• @celtschk yes the advantage of in-site MathJax is that at least if it doesn't render you can still make out what the equation should be from the LaTeX. Another reason why mathurl should ideally be only a temporary solution. Sep 21 '14 at 10:10
• Looking at the source of your answer, I notice that there's an alternative text that reads "altitude equation". Maybe it would be a good idea to use the actual LaTeX in that alternate text, so it is again self-contained (it would also make the conversion to MathJax easier at a later time; you certainly don't want to do several clicks for each equation just to get at the LaTeX source). Sep 21 '14 at 10:16
• @celtschk that's such a good suggestion I'm going to edit it into my answer. Sep 21 '14 at 10:19
• I would argue that we should not encourage off-site resources necessary for making sense of the post, for the same reason why flagging a link-only answer as Not An Answer is appropriate. Any change to the linked resource would cause the answer, or perhaps the entire question with all its answers, to become invalid or incomprehensible. If we want/need math (and there seems to be at least some valid cases for it) then we should have MathJax enabled right here on the site, rather than relying on hosting such things off-site.
– user
Sep 21 '14 at 11:21
• @MichaelKjörling I agree entirely that MathJax is the correct solution. However, I don't see mathurl as a bad interim substitute. Unlike many other sites, the link generated is a permanent link to your particular equation. There is still the problem that mathurl.com itself may disappear, but this seems much less of a risk than, for example, linking to YouTube where the video and/or account may disappear. Sep 21 '14 at 12:53