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A Wikipedia article tells us that:

A problem is regarded as inherently difficult if solving the problem requires a large amount of resources, whatever the algorithm used for solving it.

What is a more elegant, and perhaps more correct, way of expressing the notion “a large amount of ” in a context like this?

EDIT after comments: Maybe what bothers me is the the large amount followed by plural resources. I like a large amount of butter on my morning toast; and I like having a lot of books around; but I’m not so sure I’d say I like having a large amount of books here.

FINALLY I changed the sentence to read

A problem is regarded as inherently difficult if its solution requires significant resources, whatever the algorithm used.

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Doesn't "a large amount of" sound better than things like "crapload"? – Cyclone Apr 16 '11 at 22:56
@Cyclone -- I gotta' give you that one. But, you know, "shitload" is exactly the right word. Thanks, pal :-) – Pete Wilson Apr 17 '11 at 2:05
I think "crapload" ought to be a standardized unit of measurement, e.g. "That truck can hold six craploads of concrete bricks!" (Brings a whole new meaning to shit bricks, no?) – Cyclone Apr 17 '11 at 2:06
@Cyclone -- LOL! Although the notion "crapload" is infinitely expandable and might not admit of standardization. – Pete Wilson Apr 17 '11 at 12:45

10 Answers 10

up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you're just looking for a one-word synonym, you could try significant resources.

If you want to express that the amount is larger than necessary, or onerously large, you could try excessive resources.

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“significant” doesn't imply that the amount is significant, though; only that there is some important significance of the resource. “Time is a significant resource” does not imply a large amount of time. – bignose May 22 '14 at 5:16
Sure, if the word is singular as you use it. But when resources is plural, significant as a modifier usually refers to quantity. – Robusto May 22 '14 at 9:25

I don't really see anything 'inelegant' about a large amount of, but if you just want something shorter, substantial or considerable would fit the bill.

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It seems the theory in question is concerned about the proportion of available computational resources available to devote to any one problem. In this context, disproportionate resources would work well. Since disproportionate could also mean too few, you may need to qualify it as a disproportionately large amount of resources, but I think the simpler phrase remains clear from the context.

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I think OP is concerned with 'difficult' problems as (loosely) defined from the mathematical point of view, whereas disproportionate sounds more appropriate in a commercial software context. Pure mathematicians don't really care if their computing demands are disproportionate, so long as they can get access to sufficient processing power for whatever they're investigating. – FumbleFingers Apr 16 '11 at 16:28
@FumbleFingers: The OP link puts the quote in the context of a definition of computational complexity theory and an explanation of how it differs from analysis of algorithms and computability theory. My suggestion was in response to phrases I read there like quantifying the amount of resources, determine the practical limits, and appropriately restricted resources. – Callithumpian Apr 16 '11 at 17:01
@Calithumpian: I stand corrected, thank you. – FumbleFingers Apr 16 '11 at 19:24

I think the right phrase here is a large number of resources. Amount should be used with a collective noun, such as a large amount of lumber. Number is used with a plural noun, such as a large number of boards.

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No, number should only be used with countable nouns. Resources in this sense isn't countable (it required seven resources???), so number is incorrect. – Peter Shor Aug 7 '11 at 13:58

I too dislike the phrase "a large amount of," whether followed by a singular or a plural noun. It's simply too wordy. I'd prefer "many" or "lots of" in most contexts, with "substantial" as an alternative in formal writing. One sturdy, straightforward source for this kind of phrase replacement is The Appropriate Word, by J.N. Hook (Addison-Wesley, 1990). http://books.google.com/books?id=JqFiAAAAMAAJ

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If you think that's too wordy, get a large amount of this, from the blurb of the book (which I like; thanks for that and +1 to you): "A guide to proper usage for standard written, as well as conversational, English" How d'ya like them apples, bub? :-) – Pete Wilson Apr 17 '11 at 1:51

"A prohibitive amount of resources" would work well here, I think.

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How might 'an abundance of' suit your needs?


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Yes, even an overabundance in this context, where running processes and threads have to compete for the scarce resources the guy is talking about. – Pete Wilson Apr 17 '11 at 1:59

The standard modifier for this situation is "extensive." Sure, "significant" works, but extensive is better because it's the idiom.

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"A great deal of [effort]" might be more elegant.

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The context of the sentence is in computer science.

The phrase large amounts of can be substituted by substantial -

A problem is regarded as inherently difficult if its solution requires substantial resources, whatever the algorithm used.

The phrase large amounts of resources can be substituted by what resources is being consumed.

Lots of money is being consumed:

A problem is regarded as inherently difficult if its solution is costs-prohibitive.

Lots of time is being taken:

A problem is regarded as inherently difficult if its solution is time-consuming.

Lots of resources is being consumed:

The forest fire was very difficult to put out as it required many fire fighters and huge amount of water to extinguish.

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