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I'm working on a paper and I have two kinds of analyses. The first one uses numerical simulations and the other one uses a formula I compare to the numerical results. I call the first method 'numerical analysis' and the other one 'analytical analysis' but this term, 'analytical analysis' does not sound right to me. Is it pleonasm?

Thank you very much.

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  • It does look redundant. How about "formula-based analysis"?
    – Gustavson
    Mar 3, 2017 at 22:16
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    "I call the first method 'numerical analysis'... ". Isn't that the accepted term? It's certainly a compound noun/ fixed expression, and if you're using it in an ad-hoc way, that's a more serious problem. Mar 3, 2017 at 22:21
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    @EdwinA - I agree with you. The OP should be less worried about the potential pleonasm and worry more about applying the right term from those already available, such numerical analysis, quantitative analysis, statistical analysis, etc.
    – J.R.
    Mar 3, 2017 at 22:35
  • @J.R. This now becomes off-topic on ELU as being terminology restricted to a highly specific register. Maths SE might be suitable. Mar 3, 2017 at 22:50
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is asking for an opinion on a minor issue when there is very probably a far more serious problem with the terminology involved (which would render the actual question inappropriate). Mar 4, 2017 at 0:38

1 Answer 1

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If I understand correclty what you're trying to do, I would suggest you change the way you refer to your methods. The first method is "analysis using simulation" and the second method is 'analysis using mathematical methods".

To answer the question in your title, "analytical analysis" might appear to be intrinsically redundant in its literal meaning, but it is meaningless in this context.

Let me explain...


Quite often, the accepted definition of jargon seems to conflict with its literal or intuitive meaning.

First, you might be using the expression "numerical analysis" incorrectly. It is generally defined as:

The study of approximation techniques for solving mathematical problems, taking into account the extent of possible errors.

Or

(Mathematics) a branch of mathematics concerned with methods, usually iterative, for obtaining solutions to problems by means of a computer

(from The Free Dictionary)


You aren't very specific about what kind of analyses you are doing and what methods you are using (other than simulation and "analysis") and you are assuming it's clear by anchoring your explanation on two terms (numerical analysis and "analytical analysis").

Let me give you a real life example from personal experience that might be similar to your situation: Suppose you are predicting the performance of a radar, and go over how might apply to your situation.

1) Simulations

You can base our analysis on a simulation that models a radar, producing a huge amount of data that can statistically be reduced to your expectations of the radar performance. But just because this uses a lot of number crunching, it is not referred to as "numerical analysis". Parts of it might rely on numerical methods that come from the approximation techniques of numerical analysis (as defined above), but this simulation is still not referred to as numerical analysis. It could be called "performance prediction using modeling and simulation".

2) Mathematical Analysis (Analytical Solutions)

The expression analytical methods is defined as

In mathematics, using, subjected to, or capable of being subjected to a methodology involving algebra or other methods of mathematical analysis. (The Free Dictionary #5)

In the radar example, you might use mathematical analysis to create a performance model that can be used to predict performance directly, without all of the number crunching of the simulation method. This mathematical analysis might use a formula that can be calculated directly in what is called "closed form". It might also be in a form that is not amenable to closed form solution and requires the methods of numerical analysis to solve.


So you can see that what you might refer to as an "analytical analysis" could involve the methods of numerical analysis. Also, the number crunching of a simulation might not use the methods of numerical analysis. If this is counterintuitive, welcome to the area of language where jargon overrules common understanding.


All of this ignores that "types of analysis" might mean something specific to people who do this every day. For example, this article Six Types Of Analyses Every Data Scientist Should Know describes six types of analysis. None these of refers to numerical analysis or analytic methods. I'll leave that for you to read about separately.

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