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When I want to indicate that some researchers are looking for a way to speed up the execution time of a class of computer programs, should I say:

A fast execution is the subject of research...

or:

Fast execution is the subject of research...

?

Is making execution 'a fast one' enough to treat the word execution as a particular instance of execution that requires an article (I assume normally the word execution doesn't need an article in front of it)?

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  • In my opinion, this is clearer: A (new) method/approach/technique/strategy/algorithm for fast execution ... Jun 22, 2015 at 16:52
  • @DamkerngT. no, I want to say that this kind of execution (faster than any already known) is being searched for Jun 22, 2015 at 16:54
  • I base my suggestion on your meaning, which is "a way to speed up the execution", the a in my suggestion is for method/approach/technique/strategy/algorithm, not for the execution. By the way, you can use this too: A fast execution method/approach/technique/strategy/algorithm ... Jun 22, 2015 at 16:55
  • @DamkerngT. no, I need the way it is in my question Jun 22, 2015 at 17:02
  • @DamkerngT. actually, I also like your approach "A fast execution strategy...", then I need an article, right? Jun 22, 2015 at 17:06

1 Answer 1

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I can't say definitively based on just a fragment of the sentence, but I think either would work well enough and seem like correct English.

However, without the indefinite article, "fast execution", standing alone, makes it seem even more abstract, like you are writing of an property of all fast executions anywhere. I imagine bits flying around in cyberspace and how well they are optimized.

"A fast execution" makes it a little more concrete, like you are thinking about a specific program execution, or an execution of the program in a specific context. I imagine a scientists sitting at their computer waiting for a program to finish, thinking "Gosh, I wish I could get a fast execution from this program."

Based on the sentence fragment you've provided, I think you probably want no article.

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  • I am talking about a specific class of programs, that researchers are trying to speed up, so I guess I should choose "A fast execution", because a strategy that executes this class of programs fast is what researchers are looking for Jun 23, 2015 at 9:48
  • ...or should I add an article ONLY when I am talking about some specific single execution, that takes place only once (e.g. right now) and never again? Jun 23, 2015 at 10:15
  • It's a little hard to say what sounds best without a full sentence. Let's say it is: "[A] fast execution is the subject of research on sorting algorithms." The zero-article (that is, no article), sounds better, because the research and the execution you are talking about is sufficiently abstract. If it was one specific algorithm, like "[A] fast execution is the subject of research on the bubble sort algorithm" then it seems sufficiently concrete that either article or no article works equally well. Jun 23, 2015 at 16:05
  • how aobut "[A] fast execution of this class of programs is the subject of research..." ? Jun 23, 2015 at 19:54
  • No article sounds better to me because a "class" of programs is really a bunch of different specific executions, so it's more an abstract quantity of "fast execution" (which zero-article expresses), almost like a mass noun (en.wikipedia.org/?title=Mass_noun), rather than one specific type of execution (with-article). Jun 23, 2015 at 23:10

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