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It seems that we are still accepting questions on the history of mathematics as well as on notation. Why was this one not considered to be of research level on these two tags? I have checked the help center and can't find an answer there.

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    $\begingroup$ The comments seemed to be taking the thread way off course. In particular, Carlo's comment (the very first) was an excellent answer. Your original question can likely be answered, but I doubt it will be any more useful than Carlo's. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Budney Nov 2 '16 at 7:54
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    $\begingroup$ @RyanBudney I agree that the comments and answers (except for the first few by Mauro Allegranzas) were taking the tread off track. But this also applies to Carlos comment: I was not asking for ways to interpret the notation, nor did I want to discuss its pros & cons. So his comment does not answer the question. I wanted to know if it is possible to identify an early source who startet this. I added a clarification before it was put on hold, but seemingly that was not enough. $\endgroup$ – Michael Bächtold Nov 2 '16 at 8:32
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    $\begingroup$ Having looked at hsm.stackexchange for the first time right now, I'm thinking it might be better to take such a question there. But that makes me wonder if MO should not generally discourage all history questions on its site from now on. $\endgroup$ – Michael Bächtold Nov 2 '16 at 9:46
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    $\begingroup$ The existence of hsm.SE notwithstanding, questions on history of mathematics are on-topic on MO. $\endgroup$ – Emil Jeřábek Nov 2 '16 at 10:35
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    $\begingroup$ On-topicness of questions on history of mathematics on MO notwithstanding, I notice that people who raise such questions are often referred to hsm.SE. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 2 '16 at 11:17
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I have cast a final vote to reopen, but: I would encourage users to give History of Science and Mathematics a try in cases like this. (It is in danger of becoming moribund, which I think would be a shame, as there are real experts who have contributed there.)

Michael, if you do not receive answers that answer the question you asked to your satisfaction and in a reasonable amount of time, then please consider flagging the question to request migration to HSM. I notice that Franz Lemmermeyer, who seems to be knowledgeable about history, was one of the closers; perhaps he'd prefer to answer you there (?).

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Todd. Will do so. $\endgroup$ – Michael Bächtold Nov 2 '16 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ Could downvoters please shed light on what they find unsatisfactory? $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Nov 7 '16 at 18:59

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