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This computer program treats photonic crystals like a periodic set of cylinders

I am having a hard time to figure out if I should use like or as in this sentence.

Thanks in advance!

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Assuming you mean "as" when you say "us", either is possible, with a slight difference in meaning.

If you use "as", you have the particular verb "treat X as Y", which means that the thing is really an X, but you will behave as though it was really a Y.

If you use "like", that is less specific: something about the way you are treating X likens them to Y, but it is not necessarily pretending that they are Y.

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    Another useful way of encapsulating that (sometimes fine) nuance of difference is to say as = as if it were (actually Y instead of X), whereas like can simply mean similar (not identical). Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 18:10
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    @FumbleFingers, do the rules of the site permit me to comment, "Thanks. I can go to bed now. I've learnt my something new and useful for today"? :) Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 21:20
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    @Ross: Only if you're over 50! (If you're younger, you should have lain in bed tossing and turning, thinking Why did he write were instead of was? :) Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 13:26

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