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On other SE sites (such as https://math.stackexchange.com) we have MathJax equations which are a great way to include any sort of formulas in posts, e.g. $\lambda$ becomes λ.

Would it make sense to activate this feature for IOTA SE? Given the underlying framework of IOTA is quite mathematical I feel it'd be a good addition.

  • How many questions do we have that would profit from that? – Helmar Jan 8 '18 at 12:04
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    Lambda is available in any standard character set anyways. (cf. iota.stackexchange.com/questions/777/…) – Helmar Jan 8 '18 at 12:10
  • Lambda really is just a very simplistic example. But looking at arxiv.org/abs/1712.05385, you can see that there is a lot of Maths behind IOTA, which could potentially be discussed on SE. And having the tools (i.e. MathJax) would only be a plus. It's not a must, but I don't see the harm in having it (unless there are e.g. costs involved). – Phil-ZXX Jan 8 '18 at 18:12
  • As described in Helmar's answer below, enabling MathJax involves enough resources and performance penalties that we do not generally enable it until there is a clear demonstration that it will substantially benefit the site in actual practice. I'm going to decline this for now, but that doesn't mean it's a done-deal forever. It's just that we should wait to demonstrate a clear need for this feature before raising it for further consideration. – Robert Cartaino Jan 10 '18 at 18:27
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Since I'm running a bit out of comment space I'll use an answer.

There's tons of questions on Meta.SE about MathJax. The problem if you want to call it is that it's quite dependency heavy and essentially slows down the page to a certain degree. An analysis shows SO losing a third of a second on every page load—and that includes page loads of questions that don't even have formulas in them. Furthermore, that markup would load from the CF CDN which means it might not work for those who have firewalls blocking that.

Therefore I'm not convinced that blindly enabling MathJax is the way to go. Even without any further configuration Stack Exchange offers the full Unicode set of characters and with html-sub and html-sup quite a bit can be reached.

Personally, I haven't noticed enough questions or answers that would profit from a proper MathJax support at this time. If someone can name a handful of questions or answers that would profit from that however it should be considered.

For now I think we'd profit more from syntax highlighting.

  • Ah, I didn't realise there was such an overhead. That's very unfortunate. – Phil-ZXX Jan 8 '18 at 21:09
  • Today I wrote this answer. You can bet I struggled a lot, because I had to embed pictures in my comments whenever I want to use mathematical symbols. Because this was such a pain in the butt, I had to cut out a lot of symbols and formulas. The answer could have been much better and more thorough. – Bayequentist May 4 '18 at 3:41
  • @Zass that might very well be. Thank for providing it even with the hassle. However, as Robert says, we'll have to make a clear demonstration of substantial benefit. You're welcome to make that case. Maybe the amount of answers that handle mathy stuff has increased since January. – Helmar May 4 '18 at 17:37

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