A Status Update

OER and Technologies in Mathematics, BIRS, Banff, Alberta

July 27, 2019

Robert A. Beezer
University of Puget Sound

An XML Vocabulary for Authoring


  • XML syntax is a nested hierarchy (a tree)

    • <foo></foo>
    • <bar/>
    • <baz qux="corge">

  • Does not have to be UGLY!
  • PreTeXt is “author-friendly” (Principle #2)

Structure of Scholarly Documents

  • PreTeXt “captures the structure of textbooks and research papers” (Principle #1)
  • Strictly separates content and style
  • <book>, <article>, <memo>, <slideshow>, …
  • <chapter>, <section>, <subsection>, …
  • <example>, <remark>, <theorem>, …
  • <figure>, <table>, <listing>, …
  • Mathematics: inside <m>, <me>, <md>
  • Slideshow: Andrew Rechnitzer, Steven Clontz
  • <section>, <slide>, <subslide>, …

Online (HTML) Output

“Write Once, Read Anywhere” (Principle #3)

  • Adheres to standards
  • Very careful, appropriate use of CSS (David Farmer)
  • Extremely accessible (Alex Jordan, Principle #11)
  • MathJax is the enabling technology

PDF and Print Outputs ()

Print and PDF output via

  • Two conversions: print-on-demand, electronic PDF
  • Extensive use of the tcolorbox package (CSS-like)
  • Evolving styling/themes (Andrew Rechnitzer, David Farmer)

Communities Around Textbooks

Principle #10: “PreTeXt recognizes that scholarly documents involve the interaction of authors, publishers, scholars, instructors, students, and readers, with each group having its own needs and goals.”

Status Update

Conversion to EPUB

  • Developing, but usable now with basic PreTeXt (Mitch Keller)
  • AATA as EPUB on iPad @BIRS (see me)
  • Translate EPUB to Kindle?
  • Kindle conversion stuck on the rocks (math as SVG). MathJax 3 is the incoming tide?

Conversion to Jupyter

  • Derived from HTML conversion (not Markdown)
  • Hurdle: compute cells in larger logical units (e.g. examples)
  • Migrating from PreTeXt CSS to native Jupyter look
  • In-progress, usable for "worksheet" length (Sean Fitzpatrick)

Conversion to Braille

  • Adjustments to PreTeXt HTML
  • MathJax converts to MathML
  • Speech Rule Engine (SRE) converts MathML to Nemeth Braille (Volker Sorge)
  • Configure liblouis to convert “literary text”
  • Tactile graphics: Alexei Kolesnikov
  • Quality control: Al Maneki, Karen Herstein

Braille Example

Question #11: PDF, BRF, Embossed, PreTeXt

  ,f9d ! volume ( ! solid b.d$ by !
cyl9d}s _% x~2"+y~2" .k 1 _: & _%
x~2"+z~2" .k 1 _:4
⠎⠕⠇⠊⠙⠀ ⠇⠽⠐⠖⠀ ⠼⠃⠇⠀⠖ ⠏⠈⠜⠁
⠃⠕⠇⠊⠉⠀⠉⠽⠇⠼⠊⠰⠙⠸ ⠜⠀⠨⠤
    Find the volume of the solid bounded by the cylinders
    <m>x^2 + y^2 = 1</m> and <m>x^2 + z^2 = 1</m>.

Integrated Interactive Feedback

Randomized exercises, instant feedback, assesment, and homework:

  • WeBWorK: fully integrated, not connected to gradebooks (Alex Jordan, Sean Fitzpatrick)
  • Integrated “reading questions” (David Farmer)
  • MyOpenMath: preliminary, PreTeXt “endpoint”

PreTeXt Projects

  • Open Resources for Community College Algebra, Alex Jordan, et alia
  • APEX Calculus, edited by Alex Jordan, Sean Fitzpatrick
  • UBC CLP (Parts 1-4), Andrew Rechnitzer, et alia
  • Discover Linear Algebra, Jeremy Sylvestre
  • Manitoba Math1220 Linear Algebra, Michael Doob
  • A First Course in Linear Algebra, RAB
  • Explorations in Algebraic Graph Theory with Sage, RAB, Chris Godsil
  • College of Idaho MAT 101, Dave Rosoff, et alia
  • Approximately 60 projects, at least half are mature and in use



  • PreTeXt developers, contributors, and authors
  • National Federation of the Blind
  • Partial support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program under Award Nos. 1022574, 1626455, 1821706. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.