apply to very complex and difficult to describe

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jefflee

New Member
Chinese
I read a sentence:
... the detector function can apply to very complex and difficult to describe nonlocalist contents or representations.

How to understand the "apply to" here before an adjective? It seems to mean "be" or "manifest" and the like.
I looked up dictionaries and didn't find relevant explanations.
Thank you very much.
 
  • b1947420

    Senior Member
    British English
    I read a sentence:
    ... the detector function can apply to very complex and difficult to describe nonlocalist contents or representations.

    How to understand the "apply to" here before an adjective? It seems to mean "be" or "manifest" and the like.
    I looked up dictionaries and didn't find relevant explanations.
    Thank you very much.
    Welcome to the forums.

    I would like to see the context within which the word "detector" is being used.
    It could mean "is applicable to" but without the full context it is difficult to say, in my opinion.
     

    jefflee

    New Member
    Chinese
    Welcome to the forums.

    I would like to see the context within which the word "detector" is being used.
    It could mean "is applicable to" but without the full context it is difficult to say, in my opinion.
    Thank you very much.
    Here "detector" is kind of neuron model which responds to only a particular input pattern... Quite technical; it's a neuroscience textbook.
    The whole paragraph is:

    Though useful for demonstration purposes, localist representations are not particularly realistic or powerful. Thus, it is unfortunate that the detector model of the neuron is often associated with this type of representation (localist representations) — as we made clear in the previous chapter, the detector function can apply to very complex and difficult to describe nonlocalist contents or representations.
     

    b1947420

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thank you very much.
    Here "detector" is kind of neuron model which responds to only a particular input pattern... Quite technical; it's a neuroscience textbook.
    The whole paragraph is:

    Though useful for demonstration purposes, localist representations are not particularly realistic or powerful. Thus, it is unfortunate that the detector model of the neuron is often associated with this type of representation (localist representations) — as we made clear in the previous chapter, the detector function can apply to very complex and difficult to describe nonlocalist contents or representations.
    If we write "can only be applied to" in place of that highlighted above to have the meaning that the detector has a limited application, would that work?
     

    jefflee

    New Member
    Chinese
    If we write "can only be applied to" in place of that highlighted above to have the meaning that the detector has a limited application, would that work?
    Like this?
    the detector function can be applied to very complex and difficult to describe nonlocalist contents or representations.

    oh I still feel difficult trying to understand it...
    Thank you anyway.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    How to understand the "apply to" here before an adjective?
    It's not really before an adjective: it's before the noun coordination 'contents or representations'. The detector function applies to contents or representations. This noun coordination has two preceding adjective phrases modifying it, (i) 'very complex and difficult to describe' and (ii) 'nonlocalist'. In other words:

    the detector function can apply to nonlocalist contents or representations that are very complex and difficult to describe

    The unusual thing about the grammar here is that 'difficult' modifies the nouns that come after it, but 'difficult' itself has a modifier: 'difficult to describe'. Usually post-modified adjectives have to go after their nouns:

    a difficult representation
    a representation difficult to describe

    Here, however, it precedes. It would be clearer to hyphenate it:

    a difficult-to-describe representation
     

    jefflee

    New Member
    Chinese
    It's not really before an adjective: it's before the noun coordination 'contents or representations'. The detector function applies to contents or representations. This noun coordination has two preceding adjective phrases modifying it, (i) 'very complex and difficult to describe' and (ii) 'nonlocalist'. In other words:

    the detector function can apply to nonlocalist contents or representations that are very complex and difficult to describe

    The unusual thing about the grammar here is that 'difficult' modifies the nouns that come after it, but 'difficult' itself has a modifier: 'difficult to describe'. Usually post-modified adjectives have to go after their nouns:

    a difficult representation
    a representation difficult to describe

    Here, however, it precedes. It would be clearer to hyphenate it:

    a difficult-to-describe representation
    Thank you so much!
    You did a great job to make it lucid. Yes I think that's exactly what the authors mean.
     

    b1947420

    Senior Member
    British English
    Like this?
    the detector function can only be applied to very complex and difficult to describe nonlocalist contents or representations.

    oh I still feel difficult trying to understand it...
    Thank you anyway.
    I suggested the inclusion of "only" but it seems that you now have an answer that you are happy with.

    Good luck!
     
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