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I happened to read the sentences : "However great may be the importance of the gyroscope as a practical instrument of navigation or engineering, it is not needed as an excuse to demonstrate the importance of theoretical mechanics. The very existence of the general principles of mechanics is their justification."(Lanczos C. , The variational principles of mechanics, p. vii)

I can't understand the real meaning of the first sentence. Is "However..., it is not needed as an excuse..." a reguliar collocation?

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In such a construction, however expresses a degree or an amount.

However great may be

Simply means No matter what the greatness is of the gyroscope, it should not...

I'll give you another example to help you understand:

However hungry I am, I could never eat the whole pie.

Which means:

No matter how hungry I am, I could never eat the whole pie.

I hope this helps! :)

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