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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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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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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.

1 Answer

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"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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