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VMEXT: A Visualization Tool for Mathematical Expression Trees



Moritz Schubotz, Howard Cohl, Bela Gipp, Norman Meuschke, Thomas Hepp


Mathematical expressions can be represented as a tree consisting of terminal symbols, such as identifiers or numbers (leaf nodes), and functions or operators (non-leaf nodes). Expression trees are an important concept to store and process mathematical expressions as well as the most frequently used visualization of the structure of mathematical expressions. Typically, researchers and practitioners manually visualize expression trees using general-purpose tools. This approach is laborious, redundant, and error-prone. Manual visualizations represents a user's notion of what the markup of an expression should be, but not necessarily what the actual markup is.This paper presents VMEXT - a free and open source tool to directly visualize expression trees from parallel MathML. VMEXT simultaneously visualizes the presentation elements and the semantic structure of mathematical expressions to enable users to quickly spot deficiencies in the Content MathML markup that does not affect the presentation of the expression. Identifying such discrepancies previously required reading the verbose and complex MathML markup. VMEXT also allows one to visualize similar and identical elements of two expressions. Visualizing expression similarity shall support developers in designing retrieval approaches and enable improved interaction concepts for users of mathematical information retrieval systems. We demonstrate VMEXT's visualizations in two web-based applications. The first application presents the visualizations alone. The second application shows a possible integration of the visualizations in systems for mathematical knowledge management and mathematical information retrieval. The application converts LaTeX input to parallel MathML, computes basic similarity measures for mathematical expressions, and visualizes the results using VMEXT.
Proceedings Title
Conferences on Intelligent Computer Mathematics 2017
Conference Dates
July 17-21, 2017
Conference Location
Edinburgh, UK


Mathematical Information Retrieval, Expression Tree, LaTeX, MathML, Visualization


Schubotz, M. , Cohl, H. , Gipp, B. , Meuschke, N. and Hepp, T. (2017), VMEXT: A Visualization Tool for Mathematical Expression Trees, Conferences on Intelligent Computer Mathematics 2017, Edinburgh, UK, [online],, (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created July 11, 2017, Updated October 12, 2021