## Seeing math when viewing abstracts on arxiv.org [closed]

One very enjoyable feature of mathoverflow is that the math just works. You enter it using the usual LaTeX, and then the jsMath magic does the rest. One of the most frequent activities for many mathematicians is checking abstracts on arXiv. So you open an abstract and you see all these dollar signs which you have to mentally decipher.

Question: Is there a way to set up jsMath, Firefox, etc., so that you can see formulas when viewing abstracts on arxiv.org?

This may be a meta question, but who reads meta threads, right? And there is a high concentration of experts here who may be able to answer this. That would improve quality of life for many mathematicians, I am sure.

1. Yes, people should make an effort and write abstracts on arXiv without using math. symbols, preferably. But the easiest thing to do, really, is to reuse your article abstract for the arXiv abstract, and that's what people do. And you can easily use some math symbols in your article abstract.
2. Is it a question for arXiv people and not for MO? Maybe. But this is a very active community of people who encounter this problem on a daily basis. I hoping there is someone clever enough that solved this problem for themselves already.
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You should contact the arXiv people, really. – Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Mar 29 2010 at 1:25
This is a very borderline case in my opinion, but I'm voting to close as 'off topic' on the basis that this question should be addressed to the arXiv directly. (Addressing it here will serve no purpose as far as I can tell.) I would be fine with a variation on the following instead. Is there a user-side method to render latex formulas on arbitrary websites? – François G. Dorais Mar 29 2010 at 3:11
I have not tried to do this myself, but one ought to be able to accomplish this with a Greasemonkey script. You might ask on meta.MO, simply because much discussion of jsMath already goes on there. – Reid Barton Mar 29 2010 at 4:17
FWIW I've noticed that most LaTeX in ArXiv abstracts tends to have undefined macros in! That makes the problem much harder. You typically get things like "Consider the curve \$\C:y^2=x^3+1 \$ . In \cite{BSD} it was conjectured that...". You're never going to be rendering this in your browser ;-) (unless your browser reads the preamble of the TeX source before processing the abstract!) – Kevin Buzzard Mar 29 2010 at 6:54
In Firefox on my computer, the statement 'the math just works' is just plain wrong. – HW Mar 29 2010 at 15:51

## closed as off topic by François G. Dorais♦, Tom Leinster, S. Carnahan♦, Mariano Suárez-Alvarez, Andrew StaceyMar 29 2010 at 21:11

You may be interested in looking at the following greasemonkey script:

http://www.gold-saucer.org/mathml/greasemonkey/

It doesn't look as though it's been worked on recently but that doesn't stop it being usable. The basic idea is to overlay a simplified latex->MathML converter on top of a webpage. Since it is a greasemonkey script, it is entirely user-controlled and can be applied to any webpage, arxiv or otherwise.

Of course, there is always the problem of non-standard macros in abstracts and I completely agree with the sentiment that abstracts should be 100% legible without requiring extra parsing.