Suppose you have a bunch of things; every thing has a certain performance; and one thing's bad performance negatively impacts the other things' performances. For example, links in a chain, or school kids in a classroom, or solar panels on a roof.

Now suppose you can divide all the things up into groups, so as to minimize the negative effects that lower-performing things have on other members of their group. For example, you may place rowdy children in a separate class, or you may string shaded solar panels separate from unshaded solar panels.

What would you call such a group?

  • I don't understand what you mean. You can't chop up a chain so that a dodgy link won't cause 9 out of 10 shorter chains to fail. The chain needs to be a certain length. / You can't position a duff solar panel in a 'good' position. / You can separate disruptive children to an extent, dividing them among near-parallel sets. Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 19:00
  • Indeed the chain example is not apt beyond the first paragraph. (The solar panels example is though, see 2nd paragraph.)
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 11:06
  • Merriam-Webster includes an (I'd argue non-default) definition of segregation that covers your situations, but the word carries a lot of baggage: << 2b: the separation for special treatment or observation of individuals or items from a larger group >>. 'Special treatment' strongly implies that an advantage for one group or the other is envisioned. Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 12:55
  • Without the negative connotations segregation would indeed be quite suitable for my purpose. Unfortunately the baggage is disqualifyingly heavy.
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 9:40

2 Answers 2


I answer on the basis of your text rather than your title. I assume that “such a group” refers to any of the groups defined in your second paragraph and not to the single group implied by your title.

The groups into which you split the main group may be described as optimised (optimized, US spelling) groups.



to make something as good as possible



that can be done or achieved, or that can exist

The important point here is as good as possible. The outcome is as good as the best that can be achieved given the circumstances. It is not the best that could be achieved were all circumstances in favour.

In your example, the presence of poor performers means that all circumstances are not in favour and that the best imaginable (the outcome if all circumstances were favourable - there being no poor performers) cannot be achieved.


EDIT following @Edwin Ashworth's observation that my previous answer didn't properly meet the requirements of the question. As such, I suggest the below idiom, which might still not be the best idiom for the situation given in the question, but which I'm sure is somewhat better than the previous answer.

separate the wheat from the chaff

[The Free Dictionary]

  • 2
    No. Not the faintest hint of remedial segregation. Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 18:51

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