What is the clearest way to refer to -10 in the example vector v; v = (1, ⅔, -10)? I initially was going to refer to it as the largest entry of v but don't want to run the risk of having the reader infer that I'm implying 1 (obviously, in this paragraph I'm talking about the 'largest' of a non-specific vector, so I can't refer to it as the third entry).

Here is the context:

[…] we use the convention of flipping the sign of Pq so that it's largest unsigned entry is always positive.

Pq is a matrix with many entries (some positive, some negative). It turns out that the only the magnitude of these entries matter in this application. Still, to compare two such matrices (say Pq and P), we need to impose a sign convention.

closed as off-topic by Colin Fine, Mitch, tchrist, FumbleFingers, anongoodnurse Jan 5 '14 at 0:04

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  • The entry of v with the smallest value, perhaps? Can you give us some context, such as the intended audience? – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Jan 4 '14 at 14:37
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    I'm not a math guy, but do you mean "largest in absolute value (in modulus)"? Please give a context on what is considered to be a "largest entry" in a vector. – Vilmar Jan 4 '14 at 14:37
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about technical mathematical language, not English usage. – Colin Fine Jan 4 '14 at 14:44
  • @ColinFine the paper is written in english though. – user189035 Jan 4 '14 at 14:44
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    Well, if only magnitude matters, then you can stick with "largest entry in absolute value (in modulus\in magnitude), I don't think you can make it more compact, though I might be mistaken. – Vilmar Jan 4 '14 at 14:51

One could refer to the extreme value or an extreme value. For example, “We use the convention of flipping the sign of P_q so that its extreme entry is positive.”

Using largest-magnitude as an adjective is also a possibility: “We adjust the sign of P_q such that its largest-magnitude entry is positive.”

Similarly, entry of largest magnitude is a possibility: “We adjust the sign of P_q such that its entry of largest magnitude is positive.”

I regard “largest entry in magnitude” as a wrong or unnatural phrase.


It seems that only absolute value matters when determining the largest entry in a vector, so to make it clear for the audience what a "largest" entry is, you can elaborate:

Largest entry in absolute value

Largest entry in modulus

Largest entry in magnitude

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    I'd use '... entry with the largest absolute value'. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 4 '14 at 15:54
  • "Absolute value " is my answer too. – moonstar Jan 4 '14 at 16:47
  • I'm a mathematician and I'd just write: largest (absolute) value because anyone reading the paper would understand. – user24964 Jan 5 '14 at 5:44

Perhaps maximum of min and max Or maximum absolute value. Depends on the intended audiences.

  • Your first sentence sounds like the way Yoda might explain it. – J.R. Jan 4 '14 at 15:06

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