Math (LaTeX) in Markdown

Rendering mathematics for the web


When writing mathematics in markdown, I prefer a combination of syntactically pure but robust LaTeX, portability with respect to markdown processors, and aesthetically pleasing in-editor highlighting. Unfortunately, the first two constraints often conflict.

With the exception of pandoc, most markdown processors do not cater to highly mathematical documents. In particular, they tend to render $ rather than treat it as a math delimiter or will inadvertently process raw LaTeX, requiring excessive escapes for common LaTeX syntax such as the set delimiter \{. That there is no canonical math delimiter in the markdown specification is a gross oversight in the standard, but that's a topic in its own right. (Hopefully the work at CommonMark will lead to satisfactory math extension).

As it currently stands, those wishing to inject LaTeX into their markdown are subject to unfortunate contortions. Confer math in markdown.


MathJax is a JavaScript display engine for rendering mathematics in web browsers. It supports relatiely sophisticated LaTeX, such as align environments and equation references. I currently use it to render all mathematics on this site.

The following MathJax config is included in the <head> of each page containing LaTeX.

<script type="text/x-mathjax-config">
  tex2jax: {
    inlineMath: [['$','$'], ['\\(','\\)']],
    displayMath: [['$$','$$'], ['\\[','\\]']],
    processEscapes: true,
    processEnvironments: true,
    processRefs: true,
    menuSettings: { zoom: "Double-Click" },
    processClass: "math",
    skipTags: ['script', 'noscript', 'style', 'textarea', 'pre', 'code'],
  TeX: {
    equationNumbers: { autoNumber: "AMS" },
    extensions: ["AMSmath.js", "AMSsymbols.js"],

<script type="text/javascript" async

kramdown, mmark, and the $$ delimiter

The kramdown markdown processor (and its derivatives such as mmark) utilize $$ as the singular delimiter for mathematics, both inline and display. Since no further processing occurs inside the $$ delimiters, one is free to write essentially pure latex.

The inline expression \(2 := \{0, 1\} = \{\emptyset, \{\emptyset \}\}\) is rendered from:

$$2 := \{0, 1\} = \{\emptyset, \{\emptyset \}\}$$

For display mathematics, I prefer to use explicit environments, which must themselves be wrapped in $$ tags.

\[\begin{equation*} \mathfrak C_n := \left\{ \xi^0, \xi^1, \xi^2, \dots, \xi^{n-1} \right\} \end{equation*}\]

is rendered from :

\mathfrak C_n := \left\{ \xi^0, \xi^1, \xi^2, \dots, \xi^{n-1} \right\}

The advantage with this approach is that $$...$$ and $$\begin{*}...\end{*}$$ always delimit inline and display mathematics, respectively. This simplifies source transformation.


Presently I employ hugo to generate this site from markdown content. One nice feature of hugo is that it supports mmark automatically by either utilizing the .mmark file extension or explicitly specifying mmark as the processor in the page metadata. For example, this page's metadata is:

date: "2017-11-25"
title:  "Mathematics (LaTeX) in Markdown"
description: "Showcase some mathematics in markdown."
math:  true
tags:  ["latex", "mathjax", "markdown", "commonmark", "hugo"]
markup:  "mmark"



Some mathematical expressions:

\[\begin{equation*} \mathfrak G \mathrel{\vcenter{:}}= \coprod_{i=1}^{\infty} \widehat{\mathbb X}_{\{ j \lt i \}} \end{equation*}\]

\[\begin{equation*} \left( \sum_{k=1}^n a_k b_k \right)^{2} \leq \left( \sum_{k=1}^n a_k^2 \right) \left( \sum_{k=1}^n b_k^2 \right) \end{equation*}\]

\[\begin{equation*} \mathbf{V}_1 \times \mathbf{V}_2 = \begin{vmatrix} \mathbf{i} & \mathbf{j} & \mathbf{k} \newline \frac{\partial X}{\partial u} & \frac{\partial Y}{\partial u} & 0 \newline \frac{\partial X}{\partial v} & \frac{\partial Y}{\partial v} & 0 \newline \end{vmatrix} \end{equation*}\]

\[\begin{equation*} \frac{1}{(\sqrt{\phi \sqrt{5}}-\phi) e^{\frac25 \pi}} = 1+\frac{e^{-2\pi}} {1+\frac{e^{-4\pi}} {1+\frac{e^{-6\pi}} {1+\frac{e^{-8\pi}} {1+\ldots} } } } \end{equation*}\]

\[\begin{equation*} 1 + \frac{q^2}{(1-q)}+\frac{q^6}{(1-q)(1-q^2)}+\cdots = \prod_{j=0}^{\infty}\frac{1}{(1-q^{5j+2})(1-q^{5j+3})}, \quad\quad \text{for $|q| \lt 1$}. \end{equation*}\]

\[\begin{align} \nabla \times \vec{\mathbf{B}} -, \frac1c, \frac{\partial\vec{\mathbf{E}}}{\partial t} & = \frac{4\pi}{c}\vec{\mathbf{j}} \newline \nabla \cdot \vec{\mathbf{E}} & = 4 \pi \rho \newline \nabla \times \vec{\mathbf{E}}, +, \frac1c, \frac{\partial\vec{\mathbf{B}}}{\partial t} & = \vec{\mathbf{0}} \newline \nabla \cdot \vec{\mathbf{B}} & = 0 \end{align}\]

\[\begin{equation} \label{eq:showcase} x(t) = e^{\int_{t_0}^tp(s)ds}\Bigg(\int_{t_0}^t\Big(q(s)e^{-\int_{t_0}^sp(\tau)d\tau}\Big)ds + x_0\Bigg). \end{equation}\]

We can even reference equation \(\eqref{eq:showcase}\).