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I am in the process of finalising my PhD thesis title, and I am unsure if the second of the following options is grammatically correct:

  1. "A Higher-order VOF Interface Reconstruction Scheme for General Structured Grids with Applications to Surface Tension Modelling"
  2. Same as above, but using "...Application to..." instead.

My conflict between the two options arises from the fact that there is only a single sense in which the "interface reconstruction scheme" can be "applied" to "surface tension modelling" in my thesis. Therefore, I am leaning towards the latter option. But I have a strange discomfort about whether it is grammatically correct. Can someone advise me on this? (I am also open to other options that convey the same idea concisely).

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Usage is surprisingly evenly split on this one...

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In practice, I don't think it makes much difference whether you use singular or plural in such contexts. Arguably you'd be more likely to choose the plural if you know enough about the context to think in terms of multiple distinct ways the subject matter could be useful (to modeling, or whatever). But since application can be treated as either "countable" or "abstract, non-countable" in the cited context, you're not really obliged to consider that as the deciding factor.

TL;DR: Use whichever you like, but don't spent too much time thinking about any potential semantic difference - for the most part, there isn't one.


EDIT: Singular or plural, the construction [Subject text] with application/s to [associated subject/s] is relatively "formal". Still format, but imho slightly less so: ...with reference to... (never pluralised).

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    Thanks for this! :) I will stick with "application" then. Also, I had no idea google could graph word/phrase usage history like that! That's really impressive!
    – niran90
    Jul 6 '20 at 16:51
  • Just for taking into account. It follows from the title of your PhD thesis that you mean some practical solution to some technical problem, and not a theoretical application of the method you has developed. If I assume it correctly and you are going to defend the thesis in the USA, then your tutor will most likely say that it is better to use plural noun applications.
    – kngram
    Jul 6 '20 at 17:33
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“Application” refers to application in a general sense (not necessarily singular or plural), so would be appropriate here. “An application” would also work if there is a single application, but to me it doesn’t sound as slick or professional, so I’d go simply with “application”, which is absolutely fine.

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  • Thanks for your answer :)
    – niran90
    Jul 6 '20 at 16:50

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