I have this sentence in my bachelor's thesis:

After a paragraph describing an accommodation subprocess (set of activities)...

Basically, there are two potential optimizations to this subprocess.

...then a paragraph describing two possible optimizations.

Is it correct to use optimization to in this context? I didn't find any similar expression on the web.

  • There are quite a few usage references on web: google.co.in/… In your context, usage seems fine to me!
    – Mohit
    Dec 28, 2012 at 10:23
  • 2
    What is that sentence describing? Perhaps optimisations of might be better, indicating that the subprocess might optimised in either (or even both) of two different ways.
    – Andrew Leach
    Dec 28, 2012 at 10:46
  • Preceding paragraph describes an accommodation subprocess (set of activities) and succeeding paragraph describes two possible optimizations. I cite from my bachelor's thesis. Dec 28, 2012 at 11:07
  • 2
    Even after the bolded sentence, you still refer to "two possible optimizations" -- a potential ambiguity. You are not stating categorically whether you are referring to two ways of optimization or two optimized solutions (results). You will need to rephrase to disambiguate.
    – Kris
    Dec 28, 2012 at 14:09

3 Answers 3


I’d put it differently altogether. If I understand the concept correctly, something like There are two ways in which this sub-process can be implemented might be clearer. But, as always, it depends on who your readers are.

  • Your interpretation seems to be wrong in meaning as compared to OP's. There is a "subprocess" which has two "potential" optimizations. Those two optimizations may or may not be implemented. It gives a non-definite connotation. Your interpretation tries to give it a near-to-definite connotation.
    – Mohit
    Dec 28, 2012 at 10:42
  • It sounds like the computing equivalent of psychobabble to me. Still, I suppose it means something to somebody. Dec 28, 2012 at 10:44
  • I think I know what you are saying. Maybe you went by the literal interpretation of the OP's sentence.
    – Mohit
    Dec 28, 2012 at 10:48
  • What does OP mean? My readers will be a state exam jury educated in IT science. I described the context more in detail in comments above. Dec 28, 2012 at 11:09
  • 1
    I think OP's construction is inherently ambiguous, and also that it's slightly odd phrasing to start with. Personally I'd be likely to say "There are two ways this sub-process can be optimised". I realise that's still potentially ambiguous, but to me it would imply only one or the other can be applied. If I wanted to more strongly imply that both optimisations could be applied, I'd probably say "There are two optimisations which can be applied to this sub-process". Dec 28, 2012 at 15:43

Given that the following paragraph goes on to describe two possible optimisations, the correct word to use would be of rather than to which would be appropriate if there was only one possible optimisation.

Your sentence should therefore read –

Basically, there are two potential optimizations of this subprocess.

  • -1: I don't think the choice of preposition (which can validly be "to", "of", or "for") has any bearing on whether there are one or more potential optimisations, or whether those optimisations are mutually exclusive alternatives. Dec 28, 2012 at 20:42

In OP's exact construction, the choice of preposition is effectively arbitrary. It can validly be "to", "of", or "for" - all of which are used by competent speakers.

That choice is not affected by whether there's one or more potential optimisations, nor does it affect the inherent ambiguity over whether those optimisations are mutually exclusive alternatives or not.

With the phrasing as given, I personally would make no assumption regarding that ambiguity. It's inherent in many constructions referring to [more than one] different way[s] to improve [something], whatever the precise wording. You need completely different phrasing to distinguish...

Either or both of two optimisations could be applied to this subprocess.


This subprocess can be optimised in one of two different ways.

FWIW, here are some usage figures from Google Books...

optimizations of the (14,200); for the (5020); to the (3840).

optimisations of the (1,100); for the (194); to the (156).

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