According to Shall we have MathJax?, to enable MathJax would require a demonstrable need.

How can we demonstrate this need? Perhaps by creating a CW list of questions that would benefit from proper notation?

To what extent is this a catch-22, in that the absence of MathJax restricts the ability to demonstrate its use. Questions that require math might be asked elsewhere, like stats.SE, physics.SE, etc, even though they would be appropriate here.

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    $\begingroup$ In case you need evidence of other not-directly-math-related sites: we had a similar issue over at Cognitive Sciences in trying to convince the overlords to grant us MathJax. We succeeded after these two meta discussions: 1, 2. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ Wrong question. It should be: is there a demonstrable cost? But yes, yes … I’ve already mentioned that and the consensus seems to be against me. No arguments though … :( $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ Just to reiterate: you must show a demonstrable need. This means you must demonstrate to us that a lack of MathJax is making your entire site less effective at answering questions. As a stop-gap, you could take screencaptures of LaTeX formatting on Mathematics or Chemistry and integrate the small pictures into your posts here. It's not perfect (and it could be inelegant) but it's a reasonable temporary measure. $\endgroup$
    – Aarthi
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ @aarthi would a summary of the use of math across disciplines of biology help? eg where it is or is not required in a sample of widely used textbooks and/or primary literature? How about if I start asking questions that qualify? $\endgroup$
    – Abe
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Abe The more you can demonstrate that not having MathJax on this site is hurting the site quality, the more likely we are to enable it. Put another way: yes! Ask all the mathjax-needing questions you can! Right now, only 1% of your questions require LaTeX markdown. That's far too little for us to implement. $\endgroup$
    – Aarthi
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Aarthi is your estimate of 1% based on the incomplete list in the answer below? Also, please note the Catch-22 described in the answer by @David $\endgroup$
    – Abe
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Abe I understand. My number is based on my observations, but I will admit to being a layperson with respect to biology. The best advice I can give you: ask the questions that need LaTeX, using images if need be, and make sure these get meta attention, either by listing them in the post below or by making that question type one of the top tags on the site. We need to see demonstrable need; it's hard to quantify a catch-22. There are stop-gaps (using images, for example) that would illustrate (heh) the problem while allowing these questions to have the information necessary. $\endgroup$
    – Aarthi
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Aarthi So are we ever going to get MathJax, or is this site going to continue to promote the stereotype that biologists are afraid of math? MathJax should be on by default for every science stackexchange, at least if the overlords have a desire to attract serious scientists. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


the absence of MathJax restricts the ability to demonstrate its use

This is an important point.

A related point is that the absence of MathJax makes the site less useful for expert-level questions (and thus less attractive / useful to experts), as discussed in Should we worry about the amount of non-expert content on the site?


A Community Wiki list of questions that would likely benefit from the use of MathJax.

Many, but not all, questions demonstrate the need for math by use of ASCII math. When no ASCII math is present, it is clear that the explanation would be more clear or comprehensive if MathJax were enabled.

(please contribute, maintaining alphabetical order to avoid duplicates):

Alternatives to fittest-win and Moran processes as simple mathematical models of selection

ATP cost for gene expression

Can I estimate leaf temperature from air temperature? What other information would be required?

Do we get 1/4 of our genes from each grandparent?

Genetic Models for Natural Selection? ? ? ?

How deep in the soil can a seed be placed and still develop into a plant/tree?

How distantly related are eusocial insects? Aren't members of a species much more related than 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4?

How many genes do we share with our mother?

Macromolecule levels in daughter cells after fission

Pedigree Probability of Autosomal Recessive Trait

Relative Property of Alleles

Understanding Membrane / Resting Potential from the perspective of ions?

What are the units of Q10 (temperature sensitivity)?

Why dont "growing degree days" have units of degrees Celsius (or do they)?

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    $\begingroup$ I've edited a few of these and used this as a checklist. Some of them seemed to only need the Mathjax for exponents, etc. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Oct 24, 2012 at 7:45
  • $\begingroup$ @jonsca thanks for doing that. Not all require MathJax; I included questions that I thought would/could benefit from answers that included mathematical formulas. I'll cross off any that I end up answering, but many are outside my area of expertise. $\endgroup$
    – Abe
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 3:46

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