Talk:proof of concept

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proof of concept[edit]

Recently resolved on rfc, but now there is a rfv issue, namely the two plurals.

My initial reaction on seeing them was to think that "proof of concepts" should be deleted, in the same way that "mother-in-laws" and "court-martials" are frowned upon. On further consideration, though, I think there is room for two plurals here, but with slightly different senses.

I would say that "proofs of concept" is the "simple" plural, as in In every software house I've worked in the past, I've had to provide proofs of concept of my work. This sentence emphasises the multiple proofs. I would reserve "proof of concepts" for the concept of proving multiple concepts; that is, "proof" is uncountable in this sense.

Hmmm. And what about "proofs of concepts"? "Proof of concepts" doesn't sound right, but let the citations speak! DCDuring TALK 12:01, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
All three exist in number, "proofs of concepts" having 100 raw b.g.c. hits, the others 5 or 6 times as many. So much for it only being uncountable. DCDuring TALK 12:29, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

So there is a more subtle point here: does "proof of concept" have countable and uncountable senses? In This document provides proof of concept, "proof of concept" is uncountable, whereas in This document is a proof of concept, it is countable (and therefore allows for These documents are proofs of concept). If "proof of concept" is uncountable only (as I have always understood it to be), then we have no plurals at all, but if it is countable only or countable as well, we need a usage note to distinguish between the two plurals, as, to my mind, they are not interchangeable. — Paul G 09:14, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

"a proof of concepts" (indicating countability) gets 29 raw b.g.c. hits, some of which are clearly countable uses of some noun sense. Interestingly, as I look at these I find that my own notion of "concept" in this collocation can refer to either the integrated concept of something as a whole or the separable component concepts. I'm not sure that we will help any user very much by trying to explain this in the "proof of concept" entry. "Concept" has different meanings, possibly, but not necessarily worth distinguishing in a dictionary entry. (It would be like having a sense for "container" saying that it was an object that contained other containers because it could be used that way.) Proof has both countable and uncountable senses. "Proof of concept" seems to carry over all the combinations of senses and plural/uncountability of the components, while still meriting an entry because it is idiomatic. Is it worth having a long-winded usage note about the combination plurals, when the component terms could carry most of the water? I would consider using {{infl|en|noun|head=proof of concept}}. The usage note could direct the user to the component entries. DCDuring TALK 12:29, 7 August 2008 (UTC)