The proposed formalism enabled us to employ various heuristics in specifying contextual rules to eliminate unwanted parts of each website.

I doubt if it is "the contextual rules" or "contextual rules", I feel I don't speak specifically, then I need no "the".

  • 1
    I'd say, only use "the" with 'contextual rules' if you mean the same ones you mentioned in some previous sentence[s]. Aug 17 '15 at 17:45
  • 1
    I'd say including "the" (faintly) implies it's known that such rules do in fact "exist" (they simply need to be fully specified in order to be successfully applied). Without it, there's more of an implication that not everyone accepts the existence (and/or functionality) of any such rules. But it's something of a non-issue - I doubt one reader in a hundred would register any difference whatsoever. Aug 17 '15 at 17:51

Let's break this sentence down bit by bit:

The proposed formalism1 enabled us to employ various heuristics in specifying contextual rules2 to eliminate unwanted parts of each website3.

1This is the subject of the sentence. You are talking about this mainly, and what effects it has had and what it can do for you. In specific, "formalism" is your subject, and the inclusion of "proposed" before it implies that its (the formalism's) proposal helped you get to where you are.

2Again, you're talking about formalism. Its proposal alone (with no other factors, just the mere suggestion of it) allowed you to do the things you list, such as specifying contextual rules. When you use 'in' to describe the type of specification, you are implying that the heuristics deal specifically with contextual rules and as one of their features, allow you to specify which contextual rules you use.*

3You're talking about the grander scheme of formalism here. What you wanted to do was focus on each website in question, and to do that, you had to come up with something - tada, formalism, which encompasses the above two areas: heuristics, and contextual rules.

*Now for what your sentence would actually mean had you included 'the.' It means "a specific set of contextual rules which would eliminate the pre-specified [you get this through inferring] parts of each website which [the parts] is unwanted." If you didn't add 'the,' which you didn't, you'd get something like: "heuristics ... which specify various contextual rules, none of which are website-specific, that [regularly, on a time-scale, as part of their function] eliminate general unwanted parts of each website."

So, adding the is optional, but it does change the meaning of your sentence.

  • If the were before unwanted parts, I might agree with you, but before contextual rules does not imply that the unwanted parts are pre-defined.
    – JavaLatte
    Aug 7 '16 at 19:13

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