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I have the following sentence:

To this end, I first devised a novel algorithm to enumerate all possible partitions; ways of dividing a network into meaningful parts.

I was told that the final semi-colon fragments the sentence and that I should change it. I am not sure what punctuation I should here, or if the sentence needs to be restuctured. In case it isn't clear to anyone, a 'way of dividing a network into meaningful parts' is a definition of a partition.

Any suggestions appreciated.

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Throwing in yet another alternative, how about a comma followed by an "i.e."?

To this end, I first devised a novel algorithm to enumerate all possible partitions, i.e. ways of dividing a network into meaningful parts.

(Yes, I do realize that id est is not a punctuation mark.)

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If "ways of dividing a network into meaningful parts" is an explanation of the preceding section, I would use either a dash or parentheses.

To this end, I first devised a novel algorithm to enumerate all possible partitions -- ways of dividing a network into meaningful parts.

Or

To this end, I first devised a novel algorithm to enumerate all possible partitions (ways of dividing a network into meaningful parts).

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I find it helpful to italicize "partitions" the first time that you use and define. The italics signify to your readers that "partition" has a precise technical meaning in the context of your paper. This advice holds no matter how you choose to set off the definition. (The suggestion to use i.e. is another fine choice. –  res Nov 29 '10 at 19:14
    
Definitely the dash, though a colon is a close second. I find parentheses at the end of a sentence rather awkward, especially for introducing a definition. –  Jon Purdy Nov 29 '10 at 22:34
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