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Someone told me that the following sentences are bad English. He specifically critized the bold words. Furthermore, he mentioned that the second sentence cannot be correctly understood.

The distance d is measured from the ball center and reduced by the shift parameter s to ease the consideration of the ball radius r.
That also motivates the default value r for the shift parameter s.

  1. Can the phrase "to ease the consideration of" be used in technical context?

  2. Does "That" create a sufficently strong connection to the preceeding sentence?


Context (simplified):

A computer program calculates the contact force between a fixed plane and a ball falling on the plane. The ball and the plane are part of a more complicated physical model.

The user has a set of parameters to specify the behavorial relation of the model. The ball radius r, the shift parameter s, and a contact force characteristic f belong to that set.

The formula that is addressed by the above sentences is

F = f(d-s)

whereas d is the computed distance of the ball center from the plane and F is the contact force.

If the shift parameter s would not be taken into account in the argument of f the user would have to right-shift his force characteristic along the x-axis by the ball radius. That is not needed because of the argument d-s. If the user has a right-shifted characteristic given he can set s to zero. If the characteristic is zero-based he can leave the default value s=r. That is meant by "easing the consideration of the ball radius".

The above sentences are a small (slightly simplified) part of the user manual.


What I have tried so far:

I searched the net for the phrase "to ease the consideration of". That gives many matches.

But if I [restrict the search to sites .us, .uk, and .edu]("to ease the consideration of" site:.us OR site:.uk OR site:.edu) the results shrink to 6 matches.

That already indicates that the phrase is wrong.


EDIT: I added the parameter name r in the first sentence to make the connection between the first and the second sentence more visible.

  • Personally, I don't know what "ease the consideration ..." means here. What do you mean by that? – TaliesinMerlin Aug 23 at 14:44
  • It's not clear what you even mean there by "consideration," but I'm pretty sure it's wrong because it doesn't fit with any definition of "consideration" that I'm aware of. The closest would be its legal definition as a thing of value, but that definition is used expressly in an exchange binds a contract. It's also not clear what you mean by "motivates," but you do give enough context to make it so that I can say unequivocally that you wouldn't say it in a technical context because inanimate objects aren't motivated and we don't personify in technical writing. – Benjamin Harman Aug 23 at 14:45
  • @TaliesinMerlin In the sense of "to take the ball radius into account in the calculation of the distance between the ball surface and the plane". – Tobias Aug 23 at 14:50
  • @BenjaminHarman Maybe it is better to say "That motivates the choice of the default value r for the shift parameter s." – Tobias Aug 23 at 14:53
  • Okay. And so in easing the consideration of the ball radius, you're saying that the radius has a smaller (but not nonexistent) role in the calculation of the distance between the ball surface and the plane? – TaliesinMerlin Aug 23 at 14:53
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I recommend against using ease the consideration of. It is unclear from the phrase alone whether you want to minimize consideration or optimize consideration; it is also unclear what consideration entails. There are a few points to consider - frequency, comprehensibility in other academic writing, and your own usage.

Frequency of Use

This expression is uncommon in academic writing, technical or not. You tried a search on Google. The situation isn't much better in academia. On Google Scholar, I have found 32 results. That tells me it's not common enough to be a field-specific turn of phrase. You will thus be relying on your readers' ability to parse the usage.

Comprehensibility

Let us take the first result from a Google Scholar search:

The mesh grid was generated in ANSA (by BETA CAE Systems S.A.) in order to ease the consideration of anatomic characteristics (i.e. integration of annulus collagen fibres). The use of this pre-processor for mesh generation facilitated the consideration of fully conforming interfaces between soft and hard tissue.

If I take ease the consideration of to mean something like simplifying the model so I have to spend less time or effort considering that factor, I would understand the sentences one way: they don't want anatomic characteristics to be a large factor in their analysis.

However, if I take ease the consideration of to mean facilitating the study of these factors, I would generate a completely different reading - they generate the mesh grid in ANSA to focus on the anatomic characteristics. The rephrasing in the second sentence suggests that this latter reading is correct - but now a reader has spent minutes trying to understand whether anatomic characteristics are an important factor to the model or not!

So a reader, looking at ease the consideration of without much context, might think it means (1) reducing the degree to which a factor affects a model, or (2) making it easier to focus on a factor within a model. While readers in that subfield might resolve the difficulty more quickly, they will likely still have to think about it, given how uncommon the turn of phrase is.

Your Example

Here is your original sentence:

The distance d is measured from the ball center and reduced by the shift parameter s to ease the consideration of the ball radius r.

We can presume your audience won't know the turn of phrase. Given that, when they read the sentence, they may think one of two things:

  1. You diminish the effects of r on the model.

  2. You make considering / studying r easier to do.

Given the presented context, I would have to think pretty hard to pick one of these possibilities. Basically, is consideration something you want to minimize, or something you want to optimize? What is consideration here?

  • How about ending the sentence after "s" and continuing with "That makes it easier to take the ball radius r into account." Maybe I even continue with "... if the force characteristic is given in dependence of the distance between the two contact surfaces." to indicate better when the ball radius must be incorporated. – Tobias Aug 23 at 19:12
  • Thanks for the pointer to "Google Scholar" (+1). – Tobias Aug 23 at 19:26
  • In German one can say "Fakt A motiviert die Wahl des Wertes B für Parameter C." Maybe that lead me to a phrase like "Fact A motivates the choice of value B for parameter C." (Maybe not clearly enough formulated in my question above.) After the comment of Benjamin I am inclined to think that such a formulation is plain wrong in English. Is it? Should I ask a new question about that here on English.SE? – Tobias Aug 23 at 19:35
  • Deepl also translates "Fakt A motiviert die Wahl des Wertes B für Parameter C." as "Fact A motivates the choice of value B for parameter C.". – Tobias Aug 23 at 20:02
  • I would ask separately about that. It doesn't sound idiomatic in English. – TaliesinMerlin Aug 23 at 20:29

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