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I have a (possible bad) habit of sometimes making a prime superscript in LaTeX with a 'hat' character in between, e.g., $x^'$ rather than $x'$. The LaTeX/MathJax rendering has worked fine either way for more than a year, right up to around yesterday, where I became aware that $x^'$ is not displayed correctly. See e.g. here.

  1. What causes this problem to emerge now?

  2. Was there a recent change to MathJax?

  3. Is there a way to fix this problem without having to edit each and every post separately by hand?

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As of Oct. 23rd, MathJax 2.1 should be in use. I suspect (but haven't verified) that bug fixes to how primes and superscripts are handled may have caused the change in behavior you're seeing.

A quick search turns up only 7 posts illustrating this problem - I've listed them below:

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    $\begingroup$ Great that only 7 Q&A are affected. Note however that this problem also persists in comments, see e.g. one of my comments to this answer. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Nov 18 '12 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ I found four comments with this pattern, and fixed them. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Nov 18 '12 at 21:43

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