# Do I replicate an experiment n times or n-1 times for a total of n experiments

I have an simulation I want to run a total of n times. (I defined the parameters of the simulation myself, so it's not something from someone else I am trying to duplicate.)

Do I then say that I replicated the experiment n times, or n–1 times? How many replications are there?

If I can only speak of the n–1 replications, then how do I elegantly refer to all the simulation runs?

• The first iteration is not (for some hair-splitters) a "replication". Just use the verb performed instead of repeated or replicated.
– TimR
Dec 2, 2015 at 13:15
• An old teacher of mine told me this Estonian joke. A farmer's wife gave him a sack of potatoes to sell at the market, which was a way's off. That evening, back at home, he complained to his wife that she had not tied up that sack of potatoes properly, for the potatoes kept spilling out, and he had to retie the sack five times on the road as he walked to the market. Dec 2, 2015 at 17:18
• Reminds me of “X times as many as” or “X times more than” Dec 4, 2015 at 19:28
• @GregLee Maybe I have to be Estonian to find the joke in that. Dec 4, 2015 at 23:50
• @MετάEd, That's what the friend who told me it said. Only Estonians see the humor. But the point is that the farmer couldn't rationally blame his wife for four of the times the bag came open, for he had tied it himself. Dec 5, 2015 at 0:34

Because of the incorrect but commonly used phrase "repeated n times", your intent would be ambiguous whether you wrote "replicated n times" or "replicated n-1 times". You can use either form (I'd suggest n-1), followed by something to the effect of "for a total of n runs".

The important part is the word "total", as far as clarity is concerned, so you could even just have something like:

After conducting n simulation runs, we found ... .

• Can you elaborate why the phrase "repeated n times" is incorrect? I'm also unsure why this is relevant, as I don't use that phrasing myself. Dec 2, 2015 at 10:54
• @cassava That's because when something is done for the first time, it hasn't been repeated (or repeated 0 times, if you like - repeat means to do something again). When it's repeated once, it's now been done twice, and so on. So once it has been repeated n times, it has been done n+1 times. Dec 2, 2015 at 13:58
• I see. In my context, "replicated n times" unambiguously means once and then n times, for a total of n+1 times. Dec 2, 2015 at 14:45
• @cassava Hmm, that contradicts your question's first sentence, "I have an simulation I want to run a total of n times." Dec 2, 2015 at 15:14
The experiment was repeated n-1 more times.

Of course, if we really want to nitpick, it cannot be repeated "n-1 more times" if it has not been repeated but rather performed once before. If that's a worry to you, just don't "repeat" or "replicate" at all and write something like

The experiment was performed n times.