Physically based rendering is a relatively new but established term in computer graphics that refers to rendering that tries to closely mimic the laws of physics for more photorealistic results.

The term sounds weird to me. I would rather have called it "physics based rendering". Is "physically based" equally correct? Are there any other examples of phrases with "-lly based" or something similar?

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  • Is it based on physics or on physical science? You can make an argument for both, so I'd say they're both correct. Since physically-based rendering is the established term, and physically-based is more common (see Ngram), I'd recommend you stick with it. – Peter Shor Apr 22 '14 at 14:26
  • There's a point at which terms, whether or not they are solecisms, simply can't be changed. I don't think it's worthwhile to try to modify a "relatively new but established term". – outis nihil Apr 22 '14 at 19:45
  • 1
    Who said anything about modifying anything? English isn't my first language and I just wanted to know if this is some unusual grammatical structure I'd just never seen before, hence the request for other examples if any exist. – Matti Virkkunen Apr 23 '14 at 11:29

Actually there is some material already dealing with this subject that may help you with this technical issue: https://www.marmoset.co/toolbag/learn/pbr-theory

Basic Theory of Physically-Based Rendering:

Physically-based rendering (PBR) is an exciting, if loosely defined, trend in real time rendering lately. The term is bandied about a lot, often generating confusion as to what exactly it means. The short answer is: “many things”, and “it depends”, which is rather unsatisfying, so I have taken it upon myself to try to explain at some length what PBR represents and how it differs from older rendering methods. This document is intended for non-engineers (artists most likely), and will not present any mathematics or code.

Coming to the grammatical issue: Yes it is grammatically correct.

  • For my eyes, the "physically based" in the question looks correct, and "physics-based" looks correct, but your alternative "physically-based" looks wrong to me. See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physically_based_animation – francis Apr 22 '14 at 14:30
  • Does that link discuss the term itself somewhere? I already saw it while googling around and it seems to be an article about computer graphics, not grammar. I know the term is probably "correct" in the sense "used and understood by many people". If the structure of the phrase is grammatically correct, do you have any other examples of using the same construct? – Matti Virkkunen Apr 22 '14 at 15:18
  • Your main question is the grammatical correctness of the definition "physically-based rendering". To me it looks appropriate also in its content with respect to your reasoning, but I may be wrong or a clearer explanation about what you are looking for may be of help. I am just trying to help you. – user66974 Apr 22 '14 at 15:49
  • I guess my question is more of a "why" than an "is" question. It still sounds incorrect to me, and having a few examples of the same construct used elsewhere would make it easier to understand. – Matti Virkkunen Apr 22 '14 at 15:52
  • I see, I suggest you rephrase your question. – user66974 Apr 22 '14 at 15:58

According to Participial Adjectives definition here, if the adjective does not have a corresponding verb, it must be constructed as a noun with a participle, as in alcohol-based chemicals. Cambridge Dictionary gives the definition of -based with similar examples, where all adjectives are constructed with a noun. I believe the confusion comes from adjectives with a corresponding verb, as in technologically advanced civilization, physically exhausted person.

So, unless there is a verb "to base" with a special meaning here, the grammatically correct form can only be physics-based rendering.

  • I agree that physics-based sounds correct, while physically based seems wrong to me because it doesn't say what it is based on (physics), but rather how it is based (in a physical way). However I think that your reasoning with the adjectives with a corresponding verb is flawed. In "technologically advanced civilization", advanced is not a verb, even if in a different context it could be used as a passive verb. But in the same usage, "based" would also be a verb, in the sense of "to base something on something else". – Raimund Krämer Feb 26 '18 at 11:50

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