I have a vector which contains one number for each occasion, and this number is the total number of animals captured for the first time on that occasion. (i.e., there is no grand total, but each element of the vector is a total on its own.)

Do I say:

F is a vector of total number of animals captured for the first time at each occasion.

or do I say:

F is a vector of total numbers of animals captured for the first time at each occasion.

i.e., should I refer to it in singular or plural? Or completely differently?

  • If you had a way to put that dow in mathematical terms the language equivalent might then become clear to some users of the site. (You can use symbols in your explanations.)
    – LPH
    Dec 3, 2023 at 12:48
  • 1
    T is the tuple whose ordered elements nᵢ are the number of animals captured for the first time on hunt/expedition i. Dec 3, 2023 at 15:04
  • So on occasions when no new animals are captured, whatever that means, the total number would be zero. Is that correct? Like there are 12 animals this time, but we've captured 9 of them before, so the "total number" is 3. Is that right? But 10 times, we captured no new animals, so we have 10 zeroes in Vector F. Like that? And captured how, I wonder? Dec 4, 2023 at 7:23
  • Vector implies multiple numbers, but total implies a single number. Would "F is a vector of numbers of animals captured for the first time at each occasion" mean anything different? I don't think so. (Also "for the first time" is ambiguous, as to whether it's first for the animal or for the catcher - you could use "new animals" but would still be better explicitly explaining.)
    – Stuart F
    Dec 4, 2023 at 13:56

3 Answers 3


A way to put it that uses typical mathematical phrasing is

F is the vector whose ith component is the number of animals first captured on occasion i.

You could add the prepositional phrase of numbers after vector, but it’s redundant in my sentence as I have phrased it. Note that we use the definite article because the vector’s specification determines it uniquely: there exists only one vector so described. And in this phrasing there is no need for total to modify number.

In answer to your first question, though, you would use vector of total numbers with number pluralized.

  • Including … the total number … might make it slightly better Dec 3, 2023 at 15:39
  • I used this, just replaced "component" with "element". Thanks!
    – Tomas
    Dec 8, 2023 at 11:22
  • Note that it is sets that have elements. Vectors don't. The things that make up vectors are called components. Dec 8, 2023 at 14:12

You are likely commenting out code, but if you aren't, then I would explain this as an indexed set. The point seems to be to associate a number with each capture event. So begin with the set of capture events.

Set C is the set of capture events. Set F contains the number of new animals captured during each capture event in set C.

If you have access to math character sets, replace "set C" with the appropriate glyph. If the code object is a vector or array, then replace set with vector or array.


And if you wanted to explain your vector to someone not versed in mathematical phraseology:

T is an array of integers, each integer corresponding to how many animals were captured at a particular location on the first occasion it was visited.

Ignore the above. I was thown off by OP's use of "at" and thought multiple locations were involved. We don't know, from OP's description, whether there are or aren't multiple locations.

T is an array of integers, each integer corresponding to how many animals, previously uncaptured, were captured on a given animal-capturing foray.


T is an array of integers, each place in the array corresponding to an animal-capturing foray, with the integer showing the number of animals captured on that foray; animals captured on any foray are excluded from subsequent counts if recaptured.

Presumably there's another vector (or vectors), arranged in the same order, with date/time/location data about each foray.

  • Seems quite a lot of mathematical phraseology in that!
    – Stuart F
    Dec 4, 2023 at 13:54
  • I think most people know what an integer is, and probably an array too. But vector and ith might throw some mathophobes for a loop :-)
    – TimR
    Dec 4, 2023 at 14:18
  • The independent variable is [collecting] occasion, not [necessarily] location. Re-visits are not specifically precluded. Dec 4, 2023 at 16:14
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    @EdwinAshworth I was taking "captured for the first time" to refer to the first visit to the place, but now I realize that it could be (indeed probably is) that animals previously captured are excluded from the count. I was thrown off by OP's use of "at".
    – TimR
    Dec 4, 2023 at 16:24

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