Text Expression Syntax

Based on Christina's post I searched Webworks and found these two links for using webworks text expressions (the first one is arguably replaced by the second):

Is this a subset of a more widely known syntax? Can other systems provide competent parsing of the syntax more economically (for example, can this also be parsed by asciimathml for example)? How did the webworks system decide upon this system and to what extent will webworks remain with such syntax?

- http://webwork.math.rochester.edu/docs/docs/pglanguage/availableFunctions.html
- http://webwork.maa.org/wiki/Mathematical_notation_recognized_by_WeBWorK

Is this a subset of a more widely known syntax? Can other systems provide competent parsing of the syntax more economically (for example, can this also be parsed by asciimathml for example)? How did the webworks system decide upon this system and to what extent will webworks remain with such syntax?