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What is the reason for transforming the symbols ∞ on the client side?

Because if someone disable javascript, this is what they see:

enter image description here

So right now I'm pondering what may be the reasons for that decision (I was thinking there are bound to be some advantage otherwise the decision wouldn't have been done).

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Note that the math in question doesn't always transform into unicode characters. You could replace something like $\infty$ with a character easily, but more complicated math would have to be an image (or look really ugly). –  Tikhon Jelvis Dec 11 '11 at 4:06
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

A few possible reasons:

  • The JavaScript library for this already existed, so it required little development time to deploy, as no major changes were required in their code base.

  • It saves processing time on the server from not having to generate the images.

  • It saves bandwidth, as the LaTeX code is much more compact than the rendered images.

  • It avoids frequent round-trips to the server while editing a post, allowing for a smoother user experience. (The LaTeX is rendered live in the preview.)

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why not use MathML instead? –  oenone Sep 1 '11 at 8:03
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@oenone While MathML is great in theory, browser support is far from perfect. The number of people having JavaScript disabled is far lower than the number of people having a MathML incompatible browser. –  HenningJ Sep 1 '11 at 10:36
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