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About two months ago, we asked SE if we could have MathJax on PLDI, but the request was summarily declined with the following reasoning:

At this time, we are declining the request to enable MathJax. Given that there seems to be a healthy amount of debate on its merits and the value it may or may not bring, I think we need to give this one a bit more time.

While I understand that some questions might benefit from it, I am hesitant to enable something that can impact page performance this early in the site's existence without a strong need demonstrated.

I want to revisit this topic in public beta when a more concrete need has been demonstrated.

We have been in public beta for a little while now, and we have accumulated a lengthy list of questions and answers for which MathJax would have been useful. (I personally suspect that this list is far from exhaustive.) Additionally, we have just had our first moderator election, and I can say with confidence that I speak for all three of us when I say that PLDI would benefit immensely from MathJax support.

Although it may not be immediately obvious why an ostensibly programming-oriented site would benefit so strongly from MathJax, consider that the reasoning is much the same as why it is necessary on Computer Science. Programming languages are underpinned by a rich field of logic and mathematics, and the language of discourse used by programming language experts uses a great deal of logical and mathematical notation. Our inability to properly typeset this notation impedes our ability to communicate, and it has already resulted in crude ASCII-art imitations on more than a couple of occasions. It would be good to remedy this sooner rather than later to minimize the work needed to retrofit these existing answers.

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    $\begingroup$ I have submitted this to our devs to implement. I will post an answer when we have this live. $\endgroup$
    – SpencerG StaffMod
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 18:31

3 Answers 3

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I enabled MathJax on PLD and here on its meta as well. Please let me know if you see any issues.

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    $\begingroup$ Hooray! Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Alexis King Mod
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 23:20
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There is definitely a need for MathJax on this site

Just to reiterate the answers on the first request, we have a list of at least 20 posts (and there are most likely quite a few more), some of which look (IMO) pretty terrible without MathJax.

So, please, do enable MathJax. We do need it.

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    $\begingroup$ More than just an aesthetic concern, the ASCII-art notation is less accessible to both human users and search-engine crawlers. You can cram a surprising amount of okay typesetting into Unicode+Markdown/HTML, and I do what I can, but quite frankly I’d never ask someone to spend the kind of effort on it that I do. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 6:13
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This is the highest voted answer on an HNQ with about 1000 views in the first day:enter image description here

In 15 years I can't recall ever seeing that for math symbols on Stack Exchange.

Now that MathJax has been enabled, I'd like to point out that some comments will be hard to fix, such as this one:

enter image description here

Users can only edit their own comments for 5 minutes, and others cannot suggest edits on comments that are not their own. Diamond moderators can edit comments, but it's hard to find which comments need editing. If MathJax was enabled earlier, the user would immediately have seen that something was wrong with this comment, and would have added an escape character within the 5 minute window during which edits are allowed. I'm mainly saying this for future sites that might want MathJax: I know for a fact that MathJax was enabled by Adam Lear at what seemed to be lightspeed on Matter Modeling SE, Quantum Computing SE, and Proof Assistants SE for example. While it might seem that delaying the implementation of MathJax until more discussion has taken place, is the safer and more prudent thing to do, hopefully a balance can be found between that and the effects of waiting too long.

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