I'm German myself and I'm having trouble with finding an adequate translation.

The English title reads "Towards a Geometric Theory of Exact Dimensional Reduction". What would be the best translation?

To me it seems that the word 'towards' expresses that some work is done in a particular direction, but the holy grail has yet to be accomplished. Efforts have been made, and the foundations have been laid out, but the details have not been fully worked out yet.

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    Welcome. All the more you are a native speaker, you should post here your attempts and then ask why none convinces you. – c.p. Jan 5 '17 at 21:59
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    Thanks c.p. I was thinking of doing that. But then I thought it might be misguiding. Often when I am looking for a word and its at the tip of my tongue I can be distracted by other suggestions, so I tried not to give wrong clues. – Marlo Jan 7 '17 at 0:58
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    Theoretisch dürfen Sie hier auch Deutsch nutzen. – peterh Jan 14 '17 at 14:12

The meaning that you describe is IMHO quite well covered bei "Beitrag zu", and according to Google Scholar this also seems to be a quite common phrase in the scientific domain. So the translation could start with

Beitrag zu einer Geometrischen Theorie der ...

I am skipping the rest because I am not sure about how to translate "dimensional reduction", but I don't think this is essential to your question.

Concerning "toward" vs. "towards": this aspect would be off-topic here, but looking at leo it seems indeed to be a British vs. American English thing.

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    I don't think this is a good solution, for the particular reason that "Beitrag" has two different meanings, both of which fit in this context. "Beitrag" can mean contribution, as intended. But "Beitrag" can also be understood as "article", "report" (cf. Beitrag in einer Nachrichtensendung), which correctly describes a publication, but totally lacks the "moving towards a goal" aspect. That is reflected by the Google Scholar results, where "Beitrag zu" is mostly just used to mean "an article about". – O. R. Mapper Jan 6 '17 at 18:28
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    ...der exakten dimensionalen Reduktion. Der einzige fragwürdige Begriff wäre dimensional reduction, welchen Wikipedia etwa hiermit bewahrheitet. – c.p. Jan 6 '17 at 18:56
  • Thanks. Der Beitrag ist sehr hilfreich :) However I think that "Beitrag", if understood as a contribution, doesn't exactly capture what I want to express with "towards...", because it assumes that there is already such a theory which this works adding something to. "towards..." can also be a contribution to an existing sketch of a theory that still needs working out, but in general it doesn't presuppose an existing body of work. – Marlo Jan 9 '17 at 10:50
  • I think thought that Beitrag is the best solution so far. – Marlo Jan 9 '17 at 11:01
  • "Beiträge zu ..." can be an alternative that reduces the chance that someone misunderstands this as meaning "article". – Philipp Wendler Feb 7 '18 at 8:01

Although I think the answer already provided by Matthias is excellent, you might want to consider using a construction involving Ansatz or Ansätze to express the idea "...that some work is done in a particular direction...". 1 The fact that directionality implies a starting point makes Ansatz an even more attractive solution, since "point of departure" is one of its meanings. Wikipedia's use of Denkrichtung as a synonym for Ansatz 2 makes a compelling argument to adopt this word as the appropriate translation, and its use in other domains of knowledge really tips the scales very strongly in its favor: in philosophy and literature, Ansatz is often translated as Approach, which in these contexts almost includes - and certainly implies - using theory as a way to address a question or problem.

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    I strongly disagree with the use of Ansatz. Ansatz means in mathematics and physics something very specific and that meaning is not intended by the OP. – c.p. Jan 6 '17 at 20:41
  • Thanks Fiona for your reply. c.p. is correct. Ansatz in mathematics means something like making an informed guess to the solution of a mathematical problem. Often, when trying to solve a differential equation people make an ansatz by trying if a certain function solves the equation. – Marlo Jan 9 '17 at 10:57

You could try with

Auf dem Weg zu einer Theorie ...

  • Thanks Martin, sounds good, too. To me this sounds a bit like I'm walking down the road to visit a theory. – Marlo Jan 9 '17 at 11:04
  • You could also think of the theory as the destination. – Martin Peters Jan 9 '17 at 12:01
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    Now where I think about it again, I think this might be the closest to the message I had in mind. – Marlo Jan 14 '17 at 19:39

Überlegungen zu einer Theorie...

looks most matching to me. Says we're not done yet, but working towards a conclusion.

One could also make some borrowings from famous past writers:

Einstein's theory of relativity was first published under

Entwurf einer verallgemeinerten Relativitätstheorie und einer Theorie der Gravitation

That implies, however, work pretty much advanced towards a theory.

  • Thanks for your suggestions. I think that "Entwurf...." conveys a degree of modesty, I like that. It also conveys a sense of ongoing work, which I like as well. – Marlo Jan 9 '17 at 10:43
  • I'm now thinking about "Entwicklung einer Theorie...." – Marlo Jan 9 '17 at 11:05

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