I have designed two algorithms, say, A and B. Is it right if I say

The following experiments prove the advantages of A over B?

Or is there some better method to express the idea that "the experiments shows that algorithm A is better than algorithm B?"

  • It's OK. Or you might use demonstrate or just show. Might depend on how strong your evidence and argument are, for example.
    – Drew
    Nov 22 '14 at 2:14
  • Why do you suspect it may not be right in the first place? If not, what/where exactly do you think could be the issue?
    – Kris
    Nov 22 '14 at 5:05
  • It's legitimate to use "prove" if the advantages are somehow proved, in a mathematical or scientific sense. But this seems unlikely, as "advantages" are usually somewhat of a judgment call, so I would tend to say "... illustrate the advantages of ..."
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 15 '15 at 0:11

The notion that experiments can "prove the advantages of A over B" seems not quite right to me. It's true that informally people say things like "Millikin's oil drop experiment proved that the charge on oil droplets suspended in mechanical equilibrium is some multiple of 1.5924(17) × 10 to the −19 power coulomb." But what people mean when they use that type of wording is that the experiment demonstrates or confirms or provides empirical evidence that (in the instance of the oil drop experiment) the charge has the asserted numerical value.

The problem is exacerbated in a situation where an experiment is said to prove "the advantages" of one thing over another—first because "the advantages" can fairly be interpreted to mean "all of the advantages," and yet it is not obvious that the advantages revealed through a series of experiments represent all of the advantages that A has over B; and second because "advantages" is an inherently vague and ill-defined concept from a scientific point of view.

In my opinion, you'd do better to use a phrase such as

The following experiments demonstrate several advantages of A over B?

and then specify what those advantages are, than to risk overstating the case with the wording

The following experiments prove the advantages of A over B.


If I were your editor, I would tell you to keep it. "The following experiments prove the advantages ..." is concise and grammatically acceptable. Nicely done.

  • Then we should use "advantages" instead of "advantage", right? Nov 22 '14 at 1:59
  • @ZongyiZhao - Yes, if there is more than one advantage. Otherwise, stick with the singular.
    – Erik Kowal
    Nov 22 '14 at 4:07
  • Yes, that's correct. Advantage is singular, advantages are plural. Nov 23 '14 at 2:26

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