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Mathematica System Used to Process and Typeset Formulas in U.S. Patents

Published November 15, 1999

Champaign, Illinois–November 15, 1999–Thousands of U.S. patents processed using the Mathematica system have been delivered to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) by Reed Technology and Information Services, Inc. (RTIS). Wolfram Research, in cooperation with RTIS, has developed a system for handling mathematical formulas in U.S. patents. RTIS, the holder of the Patent Database contract, uses this system to create both printed and electronic forms of mathematical formulas from the original materials submitted by inventors. All mathematical formulas in all U.S. patents and in the official U.S. Patent Gazette are now typeset using Wolfram Research’s Mathematica software.

Wolfram Research worked closely with RTIS to develop the system to meet stringent typographic requirements and to ensure the most rapid and efficient formula entry possible. “RTIS is excited about using Mathematica in high-volume production of mathematical items for U.S. patents. Our training time and processing time have been significantly decreased and our editors are thrilled with the clear interface customized by Wolfram Research,” states Paul Karleen, Operations Project Manager at RTIS.

Theodore W. Gray, Director of User Interfaces at Wolfram Research, says, “The development and successful deployment of this system demonstrates that Mathematica is a powerful, practical platform for the creation of customized solutions to specialized computing problems. Any application requiring either sophisticated mathematical, typographic, or business logic implementation is a candidate for a Mathematica solution.”

Making full use of Mathematica‘s flexible and programmable user interface elements and high-level symbolic language, the system presents a streamlined, highly tuned interface to the production floor workers who enter formulas in over 3000 patents processed weekly by RTIS. The system is deployed on a large network of Windows NT workstations at the RTIS Horsham, Pennsylvania production facility.

The Mathematica system automatically creates multiple electronic files for each formula, including EPS, TIFF, notebook (NB file), and MathML. MathML is a new Internet standard representation of mathematical formulas developed largely by Wolfram Research and is now an official web standard. “This means that our solution lends itself well to web display and distribution,” says Paul Karleen.

As part of the consulting process, Wolfram Research’s technical staff contributed a high level of mathematical and scientific understanding to the typesetting process. The result is higher quality typography and a higher level of mathematical fidelity in the printed and electronic representations. In particular, Wolfram Research provided tools and training to allow RTIS operators to correctly distinguish varying uses of commonly confused symbols such as e, i, j, and d, each of which is used in two fundamentally different ways in mathematical formulas.