I'd like to form a sentence to state, that a particular action inherently involves a trade-off (balance) decision between two benefits (which are mutually exclusive, but in-betweens exist).

"The design of a controller involves a trade-off between robustness and performance". I am seeking a good formulation for "involves" a trade-off. How can I say, that it is an inherent and inevitable part of the action? The word involves is too weak in my eyes, since it does not convey my point, that it is inherent/inevitable/intrinsic to the action of spending money.

"The design IS a trade-off ..." is (sadly) wrong in my opinion, since it states an equality. However, the action of designing is not EQUAL to the trade-off, but the trade-off decision is made by the action (no equality, but strong inclusion)!

  • Requires a trade-off? Is involved the word you want to replace, or is it trade-off? Or both as a phrase?
    – 1006a
    Apr 28, 2017 at 11:54
  • I'd like to replace the work involves. But if someone gives a better sentence than mine conveying my point I'd be happy to replace it all^^.
    – mike
    Apr 28, 2017 at 11:58
  • 1
    Entails would get you there.
    – MDHunter
    Apr 28, 2017 at 12:10
  • I took too long to edit my previous comment, apologies. I take it that you're trying to emphasize the process of design, not the completed, actual, design. But, they're obviously related in that any actual one instantiates, effects, or reflects the designer's choice of the appropriate balance. So, those words would work there, too. Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things" has a whole vocabulary around this issue.
    – MDHunter
    Apr 28, 2017 at 12:16
  • To me as german speaker "entails" always conveys the connotation of after something. As in not using sunscreen entails a burn on a sunny day. Where the burn didn't happen by now, but it will come after not having used protection. Or am i mistaken here?
    – mike
    Apr 28, 2017 at 12:17

2 Answers 2


If the intention is only to replace the word involve, 'Implies' works well in this sentence.

The design of a controller implies a trade-off between robustness and performance

If you're looking to do away with trade-off completely, maybe the following sentences will serve your purpose.

The design of a controller is determined by robustness and performance.

To design a controller, a balance is struck between robustness and performance.

  • Thanks for both suggestions. I had found imply in the meantime, which I liked. However, your second formulation is even better, since it emphasizes, that the reader should be aware, that through his/her design the decision is made! - That's what I want to highlight with the sentence. "By designing, a balance.."
    – mike
    Apr 28, 2017 at 15:01

A word less frequently used but Wich conveys the same kind of unavoidable relationship between two concepts could be "entail". As in:

The proper design of a controller entails striking a balance between usability and functionality.

Somehow I believe in varying a bit from the usual words to avoid the "soundbite" effect.


inˈtāl, enˈtāl/

  1. involve (something) as a necessary or inevitable part or consequence. "a situation that entails considerable risks" synonyms: involve, necessitate, require, need, demand, call for; More

  2. LAW settle the inheritance of (property) over a number of generations so that ownership remains within a particular group, usually one family. "her father's estate was entailed on a cousin" noun


  1. a settlement of the inheritance of property over a number of generations so that it remains within a family or other group.

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