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New MathJax accessibility extensions provide collapsible expressions and maths-to-speech

MathJax, the web library that provides LaTeX-quality mathematical typesetting, has received a a new set of tools to improve accessibility of mathematical notation. The new MathJax Accessibility Extensions add on-the-fly speech rendering of notation, and a tool to explore expressions through intelligent collapsing and expanding of sub-expressions.

I bought

probable prime

Around about exactly this time a year ago, I bought the frivolous domain name, to celebrate π Day and to indulge my curiosity about a marvellous algorithm to compute π’s digits.

This year, I’ve been thinking about prime numbers, and my hosting provider has run another sale on domain names. So, I’ve bought You can probably guess what I’ve made it do.

plotly.js is now open source

plotly is a fairly comprehensive tool for creating whizzy interactive charts from data. It provides a suite of tools to make a whole range of different types of charts.

Until now, it’s been a web service you send data away to in order to get a chart back. I’d always been wary of that, because I worry about what happens when Plotly the company gets sold off or goes bust, and the service gets shut down.

Well, now I can use a little bit of, because they’ve released the bit of the chart-drawing code that runs in your browser under the MIT open source licence, meaning anyone can use it independently of Plotly’s servers.

With just the open-source stuff, the process of creating a chart is quite torturous because you have to define what you want by following a fairly illegible JSON schema. That means there’s still a reason to use the proprietary stuff that gives you a nice interface from Python or R, though I suppose people will soon enough start making their own versions of those that just tie into the Javascript stuff.

More information

Plotly.js Open-Source Announcement

plotly.js on GitHub

Ask Clever Hans a question

I’ve put a very clever horse on the internet. He’s called Hans and I’ve made a little video about him.

You can ask Clever Hans your own questions! Go to and make sure your microphone is turned on. Another proviso: I think only Google Chrome supports the special technology I used to make Hans work. Sorry!

I’ll explain how Hans does his horsey magic below the fold.

Vote for MathML support in Microsoft Edge

MathJax manager Peter Krautzberger continues his quest to get web browsers to support MathML, by tweeting a link to this page on the Windows UserVoice forum where you can vote to get the Microsoft Edge team to implement the maths markup standard.

Vote for MathML support: MathML at Windows Dev Feedback.

Previously in MathML’s struggle for anyone to care:

MathML 3.0 is now an ISO standard

Dark days for MathML support in browsers

Take the 30 second arithmetic challenge

My wife’s grandmother is a fearsome character. She’s in her nineties but still has all her wits about her. In fact, she’s got more than her fair share of wits. Whenever we visit her, she hits me with a barrage of questions and puzzles collected from the last several decades of TV quiz shows and newspaper games pages. My worth as a grandson-in-law is directly proportional to how many answers I get right.

One of her favourite modes of attack is the “30 Second Challenge” from the Daily Mail. It looks like this:


You start with the number on the left, then follow the instructions reading right until you get to the answer at the end. It’s one of Grandma’s favourites because it’s very hard to do in your head when she’s just reading it out!

I decided it would be a fun Sunday morning mental excursion to make a random 30 second challenge generator

MacTutor History of Mathematics website creators honoured by LMS

Edmund Robertson & John O’Connor of the University of St. Andrews have been honoured by the London Mathematical Society for their pioneering MacTutor History of Mathematics website hosted at St. Andrews.

mactutor dudes

On 3rd July it was announced that both men have received the Hirst Prize, and Edmund Robertson has been been invited to give the associated Hirst Lectureship, all part of LMS 150th Anniversary celebrations.