I'm trying to find the following paper:

R.M. Wilson, “Decomposition of a complete graph into subgraphs isomorphic to a given graph.“ Congressus Numerantium XV (1975), 647-659. MR0396347 (53:214)

Also seen cited as:

R.M. Wilson, “Decomposition of a complete graph into subgraphs isomorphic to a given graph.“ Utilitas Math, Winnipeg (1976)

I cannot find it anywhere, online or offline. How am I supposed to progress here?


4 Answers 4


If you are at a university, you can go to your library and request the article through their document delivery service. This is a service available through every university library I know of, and a librarian will find a copy one way or another. There may be a cost; often it is paid by the library, and if this is for research then it should be possible to pay for it through the associated grant.

  • 6
    Really? Any ILL I've ever submitted as a student has been free. Are faculty charged? May 30 at 19:54
  • 4
    @AzorAhai-him- It depends on the university/library. Some do, some don't. Oxford will charge to fetch a scan of a document they have in storage... (Or did in 2016/2017)
    – DetlevCM
    May 30 at 20:52
  • 4
    Yes, even faculty pay at my school, but at 1,50€ a pop it doesn't break the bank. My librarians are AWESOME at finding obscure stuff I want! I also want this paper, too... May 30 at 21:55
  • 1
    @AzorAhai-him- clearly there is a cost associated - someone is going to pay it. My university (i.e., student's fees) assume the cost up to a reasonably number of requests or assigns it to the research grant if applicable. Some other do the same and requires a token payment to avoid overuse... (I think that the cost is around 30€ per search).
    – Rmano
    May 31 at 5:56
  • 2
    @AzorAhai-him- at my former university, the library is obligated to charge the department for some weird legal reasons (or so said the librarian). But it is cheap. Probably, handling the payment costs more than the actual value.
    – Davidmh
    May 31 at 12:18

Kindly ask all the authors that recently cited that paper ... at least one of them must have a printed copy or a pdf that can be shared privately with you.

Start from here to look for all citations since 2018

  • 3
    This is not a bad idea. But asking a librarian or trying harder to find it yourself (as in my answer) might be better.
    – Oliver882
    May 31 at 8:31
  • @Oliver882 I presume OP already asked librarians, since OP states "I cannot find it anywhere, online or offline"... but I also know I may be wrong. :) . I had similar issue with a paper from a widely cited paper from the beginning of the 90s: too new to be widely found, too old to be readily available in pdf. Solution: the library provided me microfilms (!) and they thaught me how to use the microfilm scanner in the library (!!).
    – EarlGrey
    May 31 at 8:36
  • 5
    Actually I assumed OP had not already asked librarians, because if he/she had, the librarian would probably have found it! But I may be wrong too.
    – Oliver882
    May 31 at 8:57
  • 4
    "at least one of them must have a printed copy or a pdf" LOL. Most people cite stuff without reading it first. This citation has probably been copied from paper to paper since the 1970's, without anyone reading it. May 31 at 19:52

Based on similar references elsewhere, I think it is in "Proceedings of the Fifth British Combinatorial Conference". https://lccn.loc.gov/77361732

See reference 4 in https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02321683/document

or reference 1 in https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016750600870654X

So now you just have to get this proceedings from a library.

I found this by googling "Congressus Numerantium XV" to find out what that was.


The following may be useful if you have access: https://mathscinet.ams.org/mathscinet/pdf/396347.pdf?pg1=MR&s1=53:214&loc=fromreflist

I also found the following citations with slightly more information:

  • https://epubs.siam.org/doi/10.1137/S0097539792229507 [14] R. M. Wilson, Decomposition of a Complete Graph into Subgraphs Isomorphic to a Given Graph, Utilitas Mathematica Publishing, Winnipeg, MB, 1976, pp. 647–695.
  • https://mathscinet.ams.org/mathscinet-getitem?mr=0396347: MR396347 05C99 Wilson, Richard M. Decompositions of complete graphs into subgraphs isomorphic to a given graph. Proceedings of the Fifth British Combinatorial Conference (Univ. Aberdeen, Aberdeen, 1975) , pp. 647–659. Congressus Numerantium, No. XV, Utilitas Math., Winnipeg, Man., 1976.
  • http://staff.computing.dundee.ac.uk/kedwards/biblio.html (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:sA6vqpGSoXkJ:staff.computing.dundee.ac.uk/kedwards/biblio.html): 198. R. M. Wilson, Decomposition of complete graphs into subgraphs isomorphic to a given graph, in Proceedings of Fifth British Combinatorial Conference (Aberdeen, 1975) (eds. C. St. J. A. Nash-Williams & J. Sheehan), Congressus Numerantium, 15, (1976), pp. 647-659. MR0396347 (53 #214)

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