Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is it redundant to say iterate over? I cannot think of any other word that you'd use with iterate, so is it acceptable (or correct, even) to drop the over?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

Iterate over what? I guess that is the point.

To 'iterate' is to repeat something, say, an action, so we can iterate a procedure, or we can iterate over x, or iterate through x. So:

We iterate over numbers one to ten.

We iterate through each entry.

We iterate the above procedure.

The above procedure is iterative.

Note the difference between iterate and reiterate as some might find it subtle, where reiterated becomes continuous:

Iterate

To say or perform again; repeat.

Reiterate

To say or do again or repeatedly.

In this case:

We reiterate the above procedure until we get a satisfying result.

share|improve this answer
    
Is there really a difference between iterate and reiterate? It seems to me that (except maybe in mathematical language) they're synonyms. –  Peter Shor Apr 29 '11 at 9:57
3  
@Peter Shor: "Reiterate" has the specific meaning of saying something again (and again). Allow me to reiterate my earlier contention that this method iterates over all the objects in the array and sorts them according to the age property. –  Robusto Apr 29 '11 at 10:12
add comment

Iterate is a transitive verb, meaning to repeat something, which is often used mathematically: if you want to say you do a procedure again, you would say

We iterate the procedure.

In mathematics or computing, if you want to say you do the procedure on every object in some set $S$, you would say

We iterate the procedure over the set $S$.

If the person you're talking to knows what the procedure is, you can drop it from the sentence:

We iterate over the set $S$.

You need the word over in this sentence, because you're not iterating the set; you're iterating the procedure.


If you're not talking about mathematics, I don't think you'd use the preposition over:

We will iterate the decontamination procedure for every house in the town.

or, if your audience understands you're talking about decontamination:

We will iterate for every house in the town.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.