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Broadly, the steps involved in establishing a full implementation can be separated as follows: analysing the application to be accelerated; understanding the logic, compute, and data dependencies; and then enabling this on a chip given the constraints of real hardware.

Is this correct usage of semicolons? I'm not concerned about them following the colon; I'm only concerned about using it in a list where only one individual element - as far as the semicolons are concerned - is itself comma-separated. Also slightly concerned about how the list being sequential affects the sentence flow.

Many thanks in advance for any help/advice.

  • I am okay with the sentence, but question the word 'this' that you will enable. What will you enable? As far as semicolons, the comma does not itself determine the need for semicolons. That need comes from how long and complex the pieces are, with the inner comma a contributing factor. – Yosef Baskin Apr 6 '17 at 18:52
  • That's a very good point, but actually I have to admit that I'd halfheartedly altered the sentence to remove some sensitive information. It makes more sense unadulterated, but it's still a bit problematic. Unfortunately, I can't share the whole thing, but your advice does actually help make the "real" last sentence sound better. Thank you. – Ben A Apr 7 '17 at 9:14
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This usage is acceptable - the semicolons are cast as "super-commas" to encapsulate the overall list, whilst commas may appear in their own sub-lists.

Using commas only would result in confusion, and the writer would likely have to break the list up into discrete sentences, which adds a bit of pedantry to the whole thing. Submitted for your inspection, the dreaded "Bulleted List":

Full implementation can be separated as follows:

  • analysing the application to be accelerated

  • understanding the logic, compute, and data dependencies

  • enabling this on a chip given the constraints of real hardware.

As you can see, the usage of semicolons flows much better in a sentence, whereas the bulleted list is more applicable to a Powerpoint slide...

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The semicolon usage is perfectly fine.

What the hell is a "compute dependency"?

What is "real hardware"? Don't you mean "given the constraints of the actual hardware"?

How do you "enable" something "on a chip"? ...

Here are some further minor changes I would suggest:

Overall,Broadly, the steps involved in establishing a full implementation can be delineated as follows: analyzing the application to be accelerated; understanding the logic, compute[???], and data dependencies; and enabling this on a chip given the constraints of real hardware[???].

("then" in "and then enabling ..." is superfluous)

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    Thanks - I agree with you about "separated" not being ideal, but as it's a technical document I've decided to go with the simpler "outlined". I also agree with you about "and enabling" and have removed the redundant "then". But as for the other comments, I'm just editing someone's brain dump - I'd already made a note to question them about what those terms mean as I had the same confusion. – Ben A Apr 6 '17 at 16:16

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