Writing notes on cryptography, it is useful to have an adjective to describe “the condition of something that can be simulated” and also to have an associated noun for the concept. Although such words are not to be found on the OED or the Webster, in theory, the adjective would be simulable, and that the noun would be simulability.

(Because simulate comes from the Latin verb simulare.)

Google, however, shows 17,500 hits for “simulatable” (mostly from cryptographers) and 7,040 hits for “simulable” (mostly from physicists), and an even wider gap in favor of “simulatability” over “simulability,” with a similar distribution of sources.

Score 1 for the physicists.

(p.s. The Webster list “simulative” as the adjective associated to verb simulate. So it should be uncontroversial to say “the simulative approach to defining security . . .”)


12 thoughts on “Simulatabilation

  1. Language is dynamic. The origin of a word do not necessarily
    set its current use.
    For example: “formulas” is OK, no need to use “formulae”.

    If one fails to see the dynamics of language, one is welcome to use the correct middle English.

  2. Certainly it’s good that language evolves towards simpler ways of saying things, like “draft” instead of “draught” and, why not, “formulas” instead of “formulae.”

    But here we have a word that is a recent creation, and which is more complicated that it needs be.

    And since we are here, I wish people stopped saying “an alumni, “an automata,” “a criteria,” and, if it’s not too much trouble, “a biscotti,” “panini sandwich,” and “decimate” to refer to a large loss.

  3. In contrast to the examples you mention (which take existing words from another language and use them incorrectly), “simulable/simulatable” were invented — so we are free to take either one. To me, simulatable sounds better.

    This kind of thing seems to come up a lot in crypto. “Equivocable” commitments are now more often (and more properly) called “equivocal”. An adversary modifying a ciphertext is said (awfully) to “malleate” it. (Even the more correct “maul” doesn’t sound so good, and is not really appropriate.) Oh well!

  4. “I wish people stopped saying […] “panini sandwich””

    We embrace your country’s food, and this is how you repay us? Shame, shame, shame! The proud American people have always had Ruben Sandwiches, Sub Sandwiches, and many other grad creations. We gave Italians the opportunity of naming a sandwich after one of their culinary creations (I remind you, these are people who believed that in America money goes on trees), and this is how they thank us? This is almost as bad as the so-called food that they call “pasta”. It nearly has no dietary value. And it has vegetables. Vegetables, I tell you! Yuck! That’s what we feed cows over here. From now on, the Panini Sandwich(!) will be called the “ingrate sandwich”. Shame, shame, shame.

  5. Do you also wish people stopped using ‘data’ and ‘media’ in the singular?

    Along similar lines as ‘simulatable’, words with unnecessary syllables include ‘orientate’, ‘installated’ (for installed), and ‘burglarize’ (although ‘burgle’ is a back-formation from ‘burglar’ too). I even prefer ‘obliged’ to ‘obligated’.

  6. And now that I think about it for a few more minutes, I realize that I just gave you a definition for simulated [which doesn’t solve the problem].

  7. The main problem is that for most of us, English is not the native language. I think there’s some analogue of how Latin or Greek are used or were used in science – probably Cicero would have been very angry on how we perverted his language. (And there’s the meta problem of how to use Englishized versions of Latin/Greek words.)

    At least we use English. “Monodromic endomorphisms” would sound cool, though.


  8. I propose the word simulacro, an image that do not represent reality. An algorithm is a simulacro of another if it imitates it.

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