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I have three examples where I am confused about comma usage with the subordinating conjunction 'where':

a) The primal algorithms broadly correspond to implicit congestion control mechanisms where noisy feedback from the network is averaged at some sources using increase/decrease rules, which are commonly found in ..."

b) For relatively explicit algorithms, they broadly correspond to congestion control approaches where sources can adjust their sending rates according to certain algorithms in response to the congestion information fed back by links."

c) The fully explicit algorithms broadly correspond to the explicit congestion control protocols where the links directly allocate their capacities to the passing flows by feeding back the allowed sending rate back to sources.

My question is this: Should I precede the subordinating conjunction 'where' with a comma in the above cases? In addition, is it always the case?

  • 1. Good you qualified it with "in the above cases." 2. No, it's not always the case. Comma may or may not be used depending on the structure & semantics in the context. – Kris May 2 '14 at 6:15
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When you include the comma, the meaning of your sentence changes:

I entered the room where the hostages were.

I entered the specific room which I knew would contain the hostages.

I entered the room, where the hostages were.

I entered a room, and I discovered the hostages in there.

To take one of your sentences:

The primal algorithms broadly correspond to implicit congestion control mechanisms where noisy feedback from the network is averaged at some sources using increase/decrease rules, which are commonly found in ...

If we add a comma before where, then we imply that in all congestion control mechanisms noisy feedback is averaged. Actually, we could leave out the whole where clause without losing relevant information (anyone knowing enough about the subject already knows that about congestion control mechanisms).

Without the comma, the extra information makes it clear that this does not hold for all congestion control mechanisms, but it does for the ones we are talking about. We cannot remove the where clause without changing the meaning of our sentence.

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