Published on January 10, 2008
Scientific Communication CITS7200: Scientific Communication CITS7200 Lecture 2 General Writing Skills in English Slide2: Ambiguous sentences Dangling participles Distinctions Redundant terms Oxymorons Punctuation Slide3: Active voice What to call yourself Adjective and adverb use Sentence starters Avoiding ambiguity: Avoiding ambiguity Smith remarked in a paper about the ambiguity of data. In the study of robotics, vision and artificial intelligence are dealt with at length. The compiler did not accept the program because it contained errors. From the Subiaco Post: From the Subiaco Post Balga residents fed up with criminal activity in their suburb have supplied the addresses and car registration numbers of people they claim are buying and selling illicit drugs to the Stirling council and police. Dangling Participles: Dangling Participles A participle is a verbal adjective qualifying a noun, but retaining some of the properties of the verb. Referring to your email, I write to inform you that … Slide7: The rule is that the agent must match the action Slide8: Substituting (a) into (b), the algorithm simplifies as follows: When deriving parallel algorithms, the model of computation must be carefully considered. Having decided to navigate the robot using stereo vision, the question will be... Distinctions: Distinctions Alternate and Alternative Alternate two Alternative many Slide10: Of the many alternatives available for implementing this algorithm, one involves alternating between the minimum and maximum values in the search. Slide11: Compare with, compare to “Compare with” is technical “Compare to” is poetic Slide12: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Compared with an English summer, an Australian winter merely has shorter days. Slide13: Compose, comprise, constitute Compose = to make up Comprise = to consist of Constitute used in reverse sense Slide14: This course is composed of 13 lectures. This course comprises 13 lectures. Thirteen lectures constitute this course. You cannot say: This course is comprised of 13 lectures. Slide15: Comprise refers to the whole content Include refers to items in content The alias year4 includes the honours students, but comprises all fourth year students in the department. Slide16: Less, fewer Less refers to a quantity – analog Fewer refers to a number – discrete Slide17: There are fewer oranges than apples, although the apples are less tasty. There are less than five algorithms currently available for optimising this sort of variable. Slide18: More music, less talk More songs, fewer ads Slide19: Generally, fewer goes with plural words but not always. That hamburger costs less than five dollars. Hand me fewer than five dollars. Slide20: Related concept with “amount” and “number” The amount of water in the test tube is small; the number of molecules is huge. I conducted a large amount of experiments. Slide21: That, which That defines and restricts Which informs and does not restrict Slide22: Consider the lattice L, which is complete. Consider the lattice L that is complete. Slide23: The car that is speeding down the road is about to crash into a stuffed piglet. The car, which is speeding down the road, is about to crash into a stuffed piglet. Which car is about to crash? Slide24: In general, which-clauses are set off by commas. The which always refers to whatever happens to be sitting in front of the comma preceding the which. Slide25: Richard argued with the lamp, which was foolish. Richard argued with the lamp, which behaviour was foolish. Richard argued with the lamp; such is the habit of fools under stress. Redundant terms: Redundant terms Max’s response was to remain inarticulately mute; he had no desire to be assaulted, assailed, or attacked. Lyn decided that the home in which they were living was turning into a crazy madhouse. Oxymorons: Oxymorons Richard told his boss that he needed a massive vacuum in which to run his experiment. The party was a resoundingly successful failure. The smart bomb exploded without reason. Punctuation: Punctuation A comma is a punctuation mark of the least separation indicated between parts of a sentence. A semi-colon is used as the chief stop of intermediate value between a comma and a full-stop. It separates two or more related clauses. Slide29: A colon is a punctuation mark ranking between a semi-colon and a full-stop. The phrase before a colon is general; the phrase after it is particular. A colon is used especially to mark antithesis, illustration, or quotation. Slide30: A full-stop marks the end of a complete sentence, containing a subject, object and finite verb. A new paragraph generally marks a change of subject. Commas: Commas RULE: When the subject is the same for both clauses in a sentence, and the subject is expressed only once, then no comma is needed. Slide32: ...the computation times were measured and recorded. Knuth's writings are entertaining and full of interesting examples. Slide33: RULE: When the subject is the same for both clauses and is expressed only once, a comma is useful when the connective is but. Slide34: Knuth's writings are entertaining, but are lacking in interesting examples. Slide35: RULE: When the subject is expressed once more, use a comma before a connecting and and but. Slide36: Knuth's writings are entertaining, and they are full of interesting examples. Slide37: RULE: Place a comma before a conjunction, introducing an independent clause. Slide38: The network modelled the behaviour of the brain and the digestive system was completely ignored. Each node sums the inputs and outputs a ‘1’ if the sum is positive. Slide39: The early data have disappeared, and it is no longer easy to reconstruct the results. The computation is complex, but there is a possible simplification if 1 is replaced throughout by sin2(x) + cos2(x). Slide40: RULE: In a series of three or more items with a single conjunction, use a comma after each item except the last. This is called a serial comma or the Oxford comma. Slide41: Red, white, and blue are the colours of the French flag. The textures determined in this image are wood, salt and pepper, and Hessian. Work done independently by Jones, Lee and Tsui, and Forkaras [18,22,3] demonstrates that this problem is NP-complete. Slide42: RULE: Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas. Slide43: The best way to use this computer, unless you are playing games, is with keyboard data entry. Slide44: RULE: Do not break sentences in two, using full-stops where commas should be used. Slide45: Knuth is an entertaining writer. A man with a wonderful repertoire of examples. Slide46: RULE: Do not join independent clauses by a comma when each clause is grammatically complete. Use a semi-colon where you could just as well use a full-stop. Slide47: Knuth's writings are entertaining; they are full of interesting examples. Slide48: RULE: If a list contains commas within the items, use semi-colons as the list separator. Slide49: The data include binary, floating, and complex images; integers and reals; and arrays of images. Slide50: RULE: Use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a list of particulars, an antithesis, an illustration, or a quotation. That is, use a colon at the end of a sentence to indicate that further explanation follows. Slide51: A dedicated programmer requires three skills: touch typing, critical analysis, and the ability to survive on little sleep in a malnourished state. Jeff’s few items of furniture were limited to: a couch, a chair, and a bed. Slide52: Stops are used to end sentences, but are also used in abbreviations, acronyms, and ellipses. RULE: When these occur at the end of a sentence, the sentence's stop is omitted. Slide53: This algorithm runs for 10 secs. A proof by induction does not consist of proving the base case, then the case of n = 1, then the case of n = 2, ... It uses a much more sophisticated form of logic. Slide54: RULE: Do not put a stop at the end of a heading Slide55: RULE: A punctuation mark is embedded within quotation marks only if it was used in the original text, such as when a complete sentence is being quoted. Slide56: Marr  argued that “biological vision systems are an inspiration for computer vision’’, although Faugeras  disagrees: “Computer vision should focus on solutions to engineering problems; it should not be restricted by biological implementations in its search for optimal algorithms.’’ Use active voice: Use active voice Active: X did Y Passive Y was done, or, Y was done by X. Slide58: No agent Two of these algorithms have been shown to terminate. Passive Two of these algorithms have been shown by Jones  to terminate. Active Jones  has shown that two of these algorithms terminate. Slide59: Passive The data were obtained with help from Internet users who responded to my request for their experiences of JPEG. Active I obtained the data from Internet users who responded to my request for information about their experiences of JPEG. Slide60: Passive The central CPU was provided by a network of SUN workstations. Active A network of SUN workstations provided the central CPU. Slide61: Passive Tree structures can be utilized for dynamic storage of terms. Active Terms can be stored in dynamic tree structures. What to call yourself: What to call yourself We = you (the reader) and me (the writer) I is still generally avoided in technical writing, but is becoming more common Adjective and adverb use: Adjective and adverb use adjective - the name of an attribute, added to the name of a thing to describe the thing more fully. adverb - word that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb or other adverb, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, etc. Slide64: Use an adjective only if it is necessary. The adjective should describe the noun more fully, for example, ``the mobile robot''. The calculation requires great analytic skill and should be written up with meticulous care. Slide65: Avoid words like very, rather, quite, nice and interesting in technical writing: ``the proof is very easy''; ``this is an interesting algorithm''. Slide66: Do not use tautological adjectives: grateful thanks, true facts, definite decisions, unexpected surprise. Sentence starters: Sentence starters Don’t start a sentence with There is … or There are … There are several dynamic programming methods used for the stereo matching problem. Researchers have tried various dynamic programming methods for the stereo matching problem. Rules for Writers : Rules for Writers Don't use contractions. Remember to never split an infinitive. The passive voice should never be used. Do not put statements in the negative form. Slide69: Verbs has to agree with their subject. Proofread carefully to see if you words out. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. Slide70: A writer must not shift your point of view. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with. Slide71: Don't overuse exclamation marks!! Place pronouns as close a possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided. Slide72: If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Slide73: Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing. Always pick on the correct idiom. Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague; seek viable alternatives.