Which is the preferred preposition to use after the word "augmented", as in the sentence "A is augmented with/by B"? Does this depend on context?

For concreteness, I am interested in mathematical usage, as in the "The set is augmented with redundant vectors for greater numerical robustness".

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    I very much doubt I would notice one way or another if just reading a text that used either version. But thinking about it more consciously, I’m fairly sure that I would use by only if the things augmenting were actually the real agent (i.e., the subject if the sentence is turned from active into passive); otherwise, I’d use with. In other words, “The set is augmented by redundant vectors” = “Redundant vectors augment the set”, but “The set is augmented with redundant vectors” = “I/we/someone augmented the set with/using redundant vectors”. Not sure if that’s just me overthinking, though. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 9 '15 at 15:00
  • That's quite similar to the intuition I have myself. – Patrick Sanan Jun 9 '15 at 15:53
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    Augmented by is part of a passive verb phrase; augmented with is part of a predicate adjective verb phrase. – John Lawler Jun 9 '15 at 17:00
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    by appears to be the more common preposition: books.google.com/ngrams/… – user66974 Jun 9 '15 at 17:31
  • I'd handle it this way: A is augmented with noun B. A is augmented by the addition of noun B. But I do not have any justification. – Michael Owen Sartin Jun 9 '15 at 20:13

The usage "A is augmented by B" indicates that B is the implied subject in the passive-voice construction "A is augmented". That is, B is doing the augmentation: "B augments A".

The usage "A is augmented with B" implies that B is what A is augmented with, by an unspecified subject. This is a predicate adjective verb phrase.

Thus, one could write "The fruit salad is augmented with papaya by Sofia", meaning "Sofia augments the fruit salad with papaya".

In many cases, one could appeal to either of the two constructions - the difference is the sense of agency attributed to B.

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  • I like Patrick Sanan's answer. He provides an explanation for at least part of my earlier comment. Another couple of examples: Sweat tea is tea augmented by the addition of sugar. Sweat tea is augmented with sugar. – Michael Owen Sartin Jun 10 '15 at 20:02

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