# Should we use MathJaX to typeset some equations?

I was writing an answer to this question and I needed to derive some relations to make it clearer and because I think that in some cases, it is better to use an equation than a lot of text. However, to typeset equations, it is quite tedious... Should we ask for and use MathJaX to simplify and get a better output in our questions and answers? What would be the cons of such a typesetting method?

Here are some questions that are using math in some form (either unicode greek/math symbols, images, html or just plain text) that could possibly be improved by mathjax:

And here is one with an answer that may have included some math if it were more accessible

I linked to the question in each case but in general the math is in the answers to these questions.

• Re: the cons, I believe MathJax has a site-wide performance penalty (per the other question on this topic) - that said I'm certainly not opposed to the idea. I think the real question is "Are we going to have that many formulas (that can't be represented neatly with +-/*)?" -- can folks give some examples of formulas we'd want to MathJax up? – voretaq7 Jan 5 '14 at 21:03
• Just for an example this is the answer I would have liked to have something to typeset the equations. It is not a lot but I think it is definitely nicer! aviation.stackexchange.com/a/453/113 – Ludovic C. Jan 5 '14 at 22:07
• I know it's a bit more work but if it's rare enough, you could generate an image of the formula using something like a LaTeX to PNG service, which would look better than formatted text. – Qantas 94 Heavy Jan 6 '14 at 6:39
• The proper way to proceed is to demonstrate a compelling need for this with a body of questions that would be improved by the markup. See the Space Exploration request as an example. – Robert Cartaino Jan 7 '14 at 22:54
• @LudovicC. I think you did OK with <sup> and <sub> tags there :-) Though as we get more aerodynamics-type questions I may revise my opinion (these tend to get math-heavy, and if we're diving into that end of the pool MathJax would certainly be nice to have) – voretaq7 Jan 7 '14 at 22:56
• This is a formal feature request for a specific feature, it's not quite a duplicate of a questions that asks if it's possible, but rather the next step to such (even if the times don't support that). – Tim Post Jan 16 '14 at 12:46

MathJax is awesome, we love it, but it does come with some caveats. I'd like to expand a little bit on a comment that Robert left indicating that we need to see a clear need for it before we enable it.

Once turned on and used in more than a few posts, it's very difficult to turn off should we find that it's not being utilized very much. Additionally:

• It's a less than trivial hit when it comes to non cache-primed visits (or, people visiting the site for the first time, or from a new / incognito browser). On slower connections, you notice it.

• If used in titles, or the first 80 - 100 characters of a post, it produces some very strange search results, because search engines don't render the special markup

• It is third-party and maintained by others, which means it requires updating, which means sites using it can sometimes experience an odd bug or two

These are by no means reasons not to use such a fantastic piece of software, but we do require that you show us that having it would be extremely beneficial to you.

Just gather a list of ~10 posts (questions or answers) where having it would have put less work on the user, and produced a much clearer and appealing result; you can simply edit your feature request and place the links there, then @mention anyone with a diamond and we'll have a look.

Meanwhile, I'll keep this in to give you a chance to do that.

Update

This is now , I looked at the examples that you added, as well as a cursory search of my own, and this markup would help make more than a trivial amount of questions and answers much easier to read (and more importantly, compose).

It's enabled now both here and meta, leave a ping if you see anything wonky.

• Ok! Thanks for the answer and I'll have a wider look to see if it is worth it or not. – Ludovic C. Jan 16 '14 at 13:47
• @LudovicC. This is now complete. Thanks for the work you put into it. – Tim Post Apr 11 '14 at 7:58
• I think the MathJax stuff has messed up the formatting on this post. Is there documentation for how to use it so we can fix the botched formatting on that post? – Jeff B Apr 17 '14 at 13:06
• @JeffBridgman I fixed that post. Mathjax looks for $...$ to interpret as LaTeX math, and you had a lot of paragraphs matching that. You can turn $ into \$ to keep mathjax for touching them. – casey Apr 17 '14 at 13:38