What article should I use when referring to a modified version of an object?

For example, I try to shorten "a modified version of Dijkstra's algorithm" and I'm not sure which of the following are correct:

  1. I intend to use the modified Dijkstra's algorithm.
  2. I intend to use a modified Dijkstra's algorithm.
  3. I intend to use modified Dijkstra's algorithm.

I googled these and there does not seem to be a consensus: 1980 results for the, 1710 results for a. Do the usual rules for using articles apply here?

  • 1
    The raw Google results will mask whether this is a subsequent mention in an article say. (And is there a second (etc) modified version, or is there a possibility that one will be developed?) – Edwin Ashworth Aug 24 '15 at 21:49

The usage of "the" as opposed to "a" is dependent on the ambiguity surrounding the modified object. Is it a version which has already been defined? If so, "the" is correct. If not, "a" is correct.

For example, in your included Google searches there is a paper that uses both "the" and "a": http://jwcn.eurasipjournals.com/content/pdf/1687-1499-2014-90.pdf

Notice in the title when the specifics of the algorithm are uncertain "a" is used. Later on, when the exact algorithm is understood, "the" is used.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.