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In writing a technical paper, I'm wondering about the correct use of proof-of-concept.

In short, the situation is that we have developed an application/tool to show the feasibility of a new approach to a problem, i.e. a proof-of-concept.

Now in the paper itself, which of the following would be better to use?

  • Therefore, the proof-of-concept tool proposed in this paper...
  • Therefore, the proof-of-concept proposed in this paper...

I'm not sure how to formally say this in English, but I guess the question is: can proof-of-concept be used to refer to the thing itself, or is it used as an adjective?

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closed as general reference by tchrist, Kristina Lopez, MετάEd, kiamlaluno, Kris Mar 16 '13 at 13:25

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

It sounds to me as if you are describing a prototype, along the lines of the "beta" phase of software testing. A prototype need not be a physical object, by the way, but simply an exemplar that performs the way the finished product will perform. To be honest, I am not familiar with the proof-of-concept locution. –  rhetorician Mar 15 '13 at 14:08
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1 Answer

up vote 0 down vote accepted

"Proof-of-concept" is not an adjective, but rather a noun.

Proof-of-concept :

  1. A short and/or incomplete realization of a certain method or idea to demonstrate its feasibility.

  2. A proof of technology or pilot project.

I would use just "proof-of-concept" instead of using "proof-of-concept tool" as the tool itself is your POC! Adding the "tool" is a redundancy in my opinion.

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Hmmm I suppose thats true. It baffles me though that the use of proof-of-concept as an adjective seems quite widespread. Especially in literature in my area. –  Mythio Mar 15 '13 at 14:05
I disagree with that Wikipedia definition, if it's implying that proof-of-concept is normally a noun. So far as I'm aware, it's usually an adjective. Most instances of "is a proof of concept" are followed by another noun which is being adjectivally modified by the preceding term. –  FumbleFingers Mar 15 '13 at 14:32
A Google book searchshows both: noun & adj. –  J.R. Mar 15 '13 at 18:03
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