Problems in complex adaptive systems are neither mathematically tractable nor are they [amenable?] to statistical techniques.

I don't think 'amenable' is correct here. What would be a proper word to use instead?

  • 2
    I don't see anything wrong with "nor are they" This ngram shows that nor are they is at least quite a bit more prevalent than a non-controversial "they definitely are" phrase.
    – Jim
    May 31 '14 at 4:25
  • Hmm, I seem to have forgotten to actually paste the link: So here it is
    – Jim
    May 31 '14 at 4:59
  • 1
    @Drew I believe you misread the sentence and didn't notice the "they." With that in there, it's simply two clauses being joined rather than two adjectives. May 31 '14 at 5:21
  • At first reading, I suspected that the real issue was not with amenable, which by the way is perfectly suitable for the purpose here, but the term 'techniques' -- try using 'analysis' instead. Problems in complex adaptive systems are neither mathematically tractable nor are they amenable to statistical analysis. (Not amenable to techniques, amenable to analysis.)
    – Kris
    May 31 '14 at 5:30
  • @Harrison. Don't you think the two clauses are not parallel (in the original version)? 'Neither' precedes an adjective phrase, while 'nor' precedes a clause. Also, do we need a comma before 'nor'?
    – ba_ul
    May 31 '14 at 8:30

A problem being "amenable to solution via (some particular approach)" is a well-established academic idiom... a bit pedantic, but correct. Since this seems to be from an academic paper, I would have to say that the word is fine as it stands.

But since we are being pedantic, I do agree that either "are they" should be removed, or "neither" should be changed to "not".

  • Why should "are they" be removed? May 31 '14 at 6:21
  • @Harrison: Redundant; the "nor" already refers back to "are" in "are neither", so you don't need to restate the verb. As I said, that's a pedantic quibble; an English professor might ding you for it but the folks this paper is aimed at probably wouldn't notice. (I wouldn't have noticed if it hadn't been previously discussed.)
    – keshlam
    May 31 '14 at 6:26
  • I see your point, but I can't imagine even an English professor dinging a person for turning a compound complement into two separate clauses. I suppose it doesn't matter either way, though. May 31 '14 at 6:37

I think that it is correct. "capable of submission (as to judgment or test) : suited <the data is amenable to analysis>"

To answer your question, however, I would replace "amenable to" with "readily solved by."

  • 2
    +1 Seems like amenable is even better suited than 'readily solved by' or 'solvable' which is not quite what the OP means.
    – Kris
    May 31 '14 at 5:28
  • @Kris considering your comment on the question, would you agree that "readily solved by" suits "techniques" better, while "amenable to" fits "analysis"? I hadn't even noticed that! May 31 '14 at 5:34
  • 1
    Good point, it seems so. However, as I said, the sentence does not actually mean to say 'readily solved by' it only says 'it lends itself to attempts to solve.' The difference may be subtle or very significant depending on context.
    – Kris
    May 31 '14 at 5:38
  • Ah, yes. I think that "readily" does get close to that, at least implying that an attempt might be made, but I could think of nothing that really captured the meaning without being a mouthful. I would be interested in hearing other suggestions, if anyone can think of some. May 31 '14 at 5:47

You could use tractable, susceptible, or amenable and be correct. I'd suggest soluble if you are looking for a word that specifically means that that a problem can be solved by means of a technique.

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