4 years and 6 months ago I asked on MO: "Who introduced the terms “equivalence relation” and “equivalence class”?" It was somehow a resting stone of a long journey that started 13 years ago from today (when I was a Ph.D. student) and ended today by publishing the main lines of the journey into the very long history of equivalence.
Feel assured, it wasn't like a day and night, 13-year 24-7 sleepless years (though near the end it was like it). It was an on-and-off recurring thought, always haunting me. I tried several times but I couldn't find a right way to share what I wanted to share, what I thought it would be my contribution. It was until two years ago, that I found that a historian of mathematics (David Fowler) had also worked on the same topic, but died before publishing it. I tried to find his unpublished manuscript. But, sadly the two sources (his wife, and the library of Warwick Math Department) that could have it, had lost it. Upon that realization, I decided to finish the paper before I die. Now, it is what it is, dedicated to David Fowler.

The paper provides an answer to two of my questions on MO (above question and "History of the abstract method in mathematics", asked near the end of the journey. But I am not sure to share it or not. I love to, but I don't know if it is a right thing to do. What should I do?

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    $\begingroup$ Related: meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/563/… I'm not aware that Joel's suggestion #2 has been implemented, but your story would seemingly fit there. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Jan 21, 2018 at 0:02
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    $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble Could you please interpret Joel's suggestion in practical terms for me? $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2018 at 0:07
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    $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble This is the paper, please have a look and let me know what is best to do link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11229-018-1674-2 $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2018 at 0:15
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    $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble I am going to bed. Too tired. Please feel free to delete my previous comment if you want. I think it remains safely unseen in this corner of meta, but it is up to you. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2018 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ Well, you could try describing your paper at meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/617/best-of-mathoverflow (Some people might feel uneasy citing their own work at a thread entitled "Best of MathOverflow", but perhaps that title should be interpreted broadly. I think it would be fine to answer there.) $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Jan 21, 2018 at 2:19
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    $\begingroup$ (Incidentally, I've just changed the title of "Best of MathOverflow", hoping others might be encouraged to make use of this thread.) $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Jan 21, 2018 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble Thank you, Todd, I'll give it a go tomorrow :) $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2018 at 21:25

1 Answer 1


I am of the opinion that it is not only right to do it, it is wrong to not do it. Usually a person will click on a question for one of two reasons:

  1. They know the answer.
  2. They are interested in the answer.

For the benefit persons of type 2., you should post an answer with the link.

You can also edit your original question with a link to the paper if you feel uncomfortable answering your own question.

  • $\begingroup$ To be honest, I personally agree with you. But, I thought it would be better to seek the opinion of more experienced members of MO. You know sometimes it is not the matter of being good or not, it is a matter of being customary or not. However, I think it is better for me considering answering the question. After all, for thirteen years I should've thought that there are some others who might be interested in knowing the answer :) $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2018 at 11:56
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps you mean 'type 2'? $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2018 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Tomas' points. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Feb 2, 2018 at 1:48
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    $\begingroup$ I agree. If you don't want to accrue any reputation for your answer to your own question, you can make the answer community wiki. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2018 at 6:11

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