In sentences :

  1. We can derive a closed-form expression through integration of X.

  2. The closed-form expression can be derived by integration of X.

  3. We can derive the optimal solution through optimization of X.

  4. The optimal solution can be derived by optimization of X.

Given to here, we are recommended that to use "through" when we have a process ( i.e., an start point + a procedure and a final result). Also, we should use "by" when we want to focus on method.

Google Results:

"through integration" = 478 k

"by integration" = 710 k

"through optimization" = 206 k

"by optimization" = 320 k

Now the question is, in above context ( Mathematics ) which one we should use? We can infer both a method and a process. ( the integration can be complex and you might need to do some complex calculations in multiple stages). However, google demonstrates the usage of "by" is more frequent.

PS : I think if we use through, we say the significant part of the following is the procedure. However, when we use by, we should expect the reader focusing on the used tool. In fact, we induct the procedure is unimportant and superficial. Am I right ?


1 Answer 1


I think you've found the difference between the two.

If some process is important and it's quite an undertaking, even an ordeal, then 'through' is more appropriate. "Better shape lies through vigorous exercise."

If the same process is less important in itself, and perhaps it doesn't take up so much resources (computational, time, money, people), then 'by' seems better.

  • Thanks Mr Bazarov. I was eager to know if it really conveys such information in native people ?
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 21:08
  • Let's hope native people will share their views too. Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 21:55

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