An short excerpt from the book Operating System Concepts with Java:

Concepts are presented using intuitive descriptions. Important theoretical results are covered, but formal proofs are omitted. The bibliographical notes at the end of each chapter contain pointers to research papers in which results were first presented and proved, as well as references to material for further reading. In place of proofs, figures and examples are used to suggest why we should expect the result in question to be true.

I don't understand that last sentence. Especially the part at the beginning: in place of proofs, figures and examples are used to suggest.

  • I think the problem arises if you read this as a 3-element list with a serial coma and a final and. I had to read it twice to realize that figures and examples is the subject and these two things are used in place of proofs- as you have also realized :-) – Jim Jul 5 '15 at 7:02
  • The "normal" sequence of elements within a sentence would put the subject+verb first, giving X is used in place of Y. Promoting the adverbial/parenthetical element in place of Y is just a stylistic variation. It's only potentially confusing in the written form - in real (i.e. - spoken) language, there would be a significant pause before the subject (figures and examples in OP's utterance), which makes it easy to recognize it's not part of the preceding clause. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 5 '15 at 14:49

The meaning would be the same as:

Instead of proofs, figures and examples are used...

It is saying figures and examples are another option you could use. It is likely the first one, "proofs", would be the better option though.

In the example, "In place of" may be more relevant since in involves printed materials (placement).

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  • 1
    Okay. The subject of the sentence must be "figures and examples". Am I correct? – Michael Rybkin Jul 4 '15 at 21:06
  • Yes that is correct. – user3169 Jul 4 '15 at 21:25

The book is saying that it doesn't like using dry mathematical language and will often use illustrations to demonstrate things instead. Figures is a technical term for an illustration or diagram, and examples just means they'll take one case to demonstrate how a system works in those diagrams, instead of using mathematical means to prove it always works.

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