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Sorry, I don't know how to write a proper title for such question in English, please edit my title if you have better words.

I am reading an article at here. There is a sentence I can't understand well:

the web server will not be able to do any processing on behalf of the concurrent requests that the process has already accepted.

I read this sentence again and again , thanks to I know web server is used to process requests, which finally make me understand web server must be on behalf of the process in logical.

But it's hard to understand at first sight. It is very easy to be confused as: AAA do something on behalf of BBB that/which description of BBB.

Such sentences are quite hard to understand for foreigners. I wouldn't understand the meaning If I don't know what web server is .

Is there any knack to understand such sentence's construction easily?


The technical words:

request: in computer science, a message sent between objects; some massage send from one cumputer to another(which hold web server)

web server: who process(handle, make some computation on) income massage(request)

process/processes: a process is an instance of a computer program that is being executed. wiki here

Update for @djna's answer:

Seems processing on behalf of the concurrent requests is the correct saying, this sentence do not have something strange grammatical inversion/preposition(I think it has when I post this question).The key is on behalf of.

The paragraph and its key idea I understand. Just that sentence is hard to translate for me, so as @djna said

processing is on behalf of/in the interest of a single request.

I just can't translate those into Chinese which would look very weird.

@djna says on behalf of means in the interest of here, in the interest of means something like stand for someone's benefit in my English-Chinese dictionary. Why a request has benefit? Only process/web server/computer can have benefit, request is their target which should not have benefit .Such as parallel processing requests would gain a good performance, I can say web server/computer gain benefit from that technical method . But the requests which are processed would not gain something for themself, they just death things, they don't have or care benefit. That is the logic of thinking in Chinese. Is English different?

  • What you cite here is not a sentence. The entire sentence is complicated, but not difficult to understand in the context of the surrounding paragraph. What don't you understand about the entire sentence? – P. E. Dant Aug 19 '16 at 5:13
  • @P. E. Dant I just post the address where I found the sentence. I am mainly asking the any knack to understand such sentence's construction easily.I am not good at this kind of sentences, and I want to know how to improve my own understanding ability – Mithril Aug 19 '16 at 5:19
  • There is no trick to it, nor a knack. It takes study and time to learn any new language. Do you know what process and request mean in this context? What don't you understand about the entire sentence? Have you visited sites like this one? – P. E. Dant Aug 19 '16 at 5:29
  • @P. E. Dant I mean I understand what this sentence says after reading it several times , also with the help of surrounding paragraph. But the construction of this sentence is strange for me, from feeling. I think there are some grammars or principle to indicate how to decompose sentence simple and clear. – Mithril Aug 19 '16 at 5:29
  • The sentence is a common form of "if-then" sentence in English. if a request takes one second, what happens? – P. E. Dant Aug 19 '16 at 5:34
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This is an extract from a quite technical document. In addition to the problem of understanding the English constructs, you have second challenge in that certain terms have specialised technical meanings. Here we see process being used in a very particular way, as well as processing being used in a subtly different but related way.

In understanding this passage you need to identify the technical terms and establish their meaning in this particular document. You cannot do this simply by reading this one paragraph. We would hope that there would be a glossary for this particular document that would define the terms, however there may well not be one, so instead we at least need to look at a technical dictionary (for example), we cannot simply appeal to standard English usage.

So here you need to know what process, web server, request, concurrent and processing mean.

From my own knowledge of this field the Web Server is a particular process running on a computer, there will be many such processes running. The Web Server has responsibility to receive requests (typically from a Browser) and performs processing to satisfy those requests.

Here we come to the meaning of on behalf which can mean in the interest or aid of. So for each request some processing is done, that processing is on behalf of a single request.

The key idea is that the Web Server is satisfying multiple requests at the same time concurrently. And the issue being addressed is what happens is one request's processing effectively monopolises the Web Server for a period of time, in this case the other requests, concurrently being processed are stalled until the monopolising processing is finished.

Hence to understand this paragraph we need to get definitions of some technical terms but also need some quite detailed technical background information about multi-threaded concurrent processing.

The only slightly tricky English here is the on behalf, which becomes clear when we understand the relationship between a request and its processing.

  • The paragraph and its key idea I understand. Just that sentence is hard to translate for me, so as that processing is on behalf of/in the interest of a single request. I just can't translate those into Chinese which would be very weird. – Mithril Aug 20 '16 at 2:13
  • in the interest of is mean something like stand for someone's benefit in my English-Chinese dictionary. Why a request has benefit? Only process/web server/computer can have benefit, request is their target which should not have benefit .Such as parallel processing requests would gain a good performance, I can say web server/computer gain benifit from that technical method . But the requests which are processed would not gain something for themself, they just death things, they don't have or care benefit. That is the logic of thinking in Chinese. Is English different? – Mithril Aug 20 '16 at 2:25
  • @Mithril yes the thinking is a little different. The meaning of a request might be return a web page containing a list of the next 3 trains to London. The web server will now do some work to satisfy that request. That phrase to satisfy the request shows how an English person would speak about this situation. The work in preparing that HTML page, the retrieviing of the list of trains, the formatting of the output is all done because that is what the request asked for, the work is being done entirely for that request. – djna Aug 20 '16 at 6:54
  • satisfy doesn't sound so weird as on behalf of does.My dictionary just doesn't cover that on behalf of has a meaning like satisfy, could I use satisfy to replace on behalf of here ? – Mithril Aug 20 '16 at 8:26
  • Yes, it would make sense in the original sentence. Possibly on behalf of sounds more natural to me because I am from the UK and also over 60 years old; it is perhaps a more formal term from my more formal era. – djna Aug 20 '16 at 8:56
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Parse a sentence in the usual way by identifying blocks of meaning and identifying the parts of speech, then put them back together. No trick or knack, just experience and familiarity. Do note that since you are reading about what appears to be a technical subject it is probably written in a "technical writing" style. Such styles are notoriously difficult for even native speakers to understand if they are unfamiliar with the subject area and many technical documents are not well written even by professional technical document authors.

enter image description here

  • What software or script, if any, generated this diagram? – P. E. Dant Aug 19 '16 at 7:50
  • Manual copy and paste in an office program, hence the impressively erratic choice on how to group the phrases and one box missing a line. – Smartybartfast Aug 19 '16 at 10:22
  • Your perspicacity is laudable and exemplary. – P. E. Dant Aug 20 '16 at 4:41

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