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I'm helping a colleague edit his paper before submission. He is a native French speaker and I am having trouble saying why "the" isn't necessary in "the threads" or in particular "the shared memory," other than it sounds wrong to me.

Perhaps it's because in this case there is only one "shared memory" in the system, so it would be like saying "I am driving through the Chicago?"

Within a thread block, the threads are divided into warps of 32 threads. These warps can synchronize, using barriers, in order to communicate through the shared memory.

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    I can't say that the two instances of "the" you question "sound wrong".
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 14, 2015 at 0:09
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    That's part of my problem :) For example, in "computer lingo" I would normally say that two processes "communicate through RAM" not "communicate through the RAM," or "I flew to London via airplane" not "I flew to London via the airplane."
    – Daniel B.
    Aug 14, 2015 at 0:18
  • In the above, the use of "the" with "threads" is kind of neutral -- I'd probably say "the", but it's no big deal either way. Re "the" with "shared memory", omitting "the" treats "shared memory" as nothing of consequence, while adding "the" hints (but doesn't require) that "shared memory" may be important and might be mentioned again shortly.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 14, 2015 at 0:24
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    In the case of "the threads," I simply think "the" is unncessary, rather than sounds wrong.
    – Daniel B.
    Aug 14, 2015 at 0:24
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    The first thing that sounds wrong is that "threads are divided into." Does that mean that threads are grouped into warps? In any case, the article in "the threads" means the threads previously mentioned, that is, hose within a thread block.
    – deadrat
    Aug 14, 2015 at 1:28

1 Answer 1

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Within a thread block, [the] threads are divided into warps of 32 threads. These warps can synchronize, using barriers, in order to communicate through [the] shared memory.

First [the]:

If you include the, you're talking about a specific set of threads. My guess about this paragraph is that it is giving a general description, not a description of a particular piece or weaving.

If you were aiming to be specific, you might well also use the here: "Within the thread block."

Second [the]:

In some languages, you say (this is an unnatural, word-for-word translation), "I like the physics." But in English that doesn't work. To describe your likes and dislikes you'll need to say, "I like physics."

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    Physics have nothing to do with the second example. It's exactly the same as the first: if you use the article, you are implying that the shared memory in question is already familiar to the reader as something ‘in scope’ in the current discourse. Here, that means that you would be referring to the specific set of shared memory that are accessible to the warps—there may be some shared memory that's not available to them as well. Without the, you're simply saying there is some shared memory, and this can be used by the warps. (Also, this seems to be about programming, not weaving.) Aug 20, 2015 at 12:20
  • @Janus can you turn that into an answer?
    – Daniel B.
    Aug 20, 2015 at 14:43

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