The opposite of abstract (adj) is concrete, but what are the opposites of other forms of the word abstract, such as:

  • abstract (v) - E.g.: We can abstract away the implementation details.
  • abstraction (n) - E.g.: I will provide an abstraction to simplify this.

I'm interested in this from a computer science perspective. Abstraction is an important concept and I often find myself needing the opposite when explaining/modeling something. I'm currently using implement and implementation, but I feel this isn't quite correct.


American Heritage has concretize, but specify came to my mind.

concretize To make real or specific.

specify To state explicitly or in detail.

  • Any thoughts on what the "concretize" form of "abstraction" would be... concretization I suppose? – devios1 May 2 '11 at 17:44
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    @chaiguy: Concretization: Scrabble score—27, Mouthfeel score—0. – Callithumpian May 2 '11 at 18:43

You may also consider TO REIFY and REIFICATION. Broadly speaking it means "to make real". (See http://www.thefreedictionary.com/reify).

Reification has a specific meaning in computer science as "the process by which an abstract idea about a computer program is turned into an explicit data model or other object" (quoting Wikipedia). You may wish to read the Wikipedia article.

  • Fascinating! Wasn't aware of that one at all... thanks! – devios1 Oct 12 '11 at 18:42

Strictly in the Computer Science realm, we use "concrete" as the opposite of "abstract" as adjectives. You cannot instantiate (make one of) an abstract class; you can instantiate a concrete class. So "instantiation" probably comes close to the noun, and "instantiate" comes close to the verb. Purely in terms of taxonomy, you could use "generalization/generalize" when going up a class heirarchy towards the more abstract ("vehicle" is a generalization of "car") and "specialization/specialize" going the other way.


Implement may be a good choice:

We can implement the details.

Another choice is flesh out:

We can flesh out the implementation details.

Or you can use both:

I will provide an implementation to flesh this out.

Fill out can also work instead of flesh out. As well, the verb form of detail can be used:

I will provide an implementation to detail this.

  • 1
    This is what I'm currently using; good to know it at least makes sense to someone else. :) – devios1 May 2 '11 at 16:26
  • The term "expand" is used in mathematics. For instance "The Taylor Expansion". "Decompression" too. Abstraction can be thought of as a form of compression. See Juergen Schmidhuber's papers. – Conor Cosnett Sep 25 '19 at 11:10

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