Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. -- Groucho Marx
Gotta love the chameleon-like nature of certain words in English. "Function" is such a word. In a computer context, it's use pretty much boils down to one of three of its many potential meanings:
In all three cases, the noun is not a mass noun. It makes sense to use an article with "function" in the original example, regardless of which of the two senses ("piece of code" or "role") were intended.
Even in your example, "Form follows function," "function" does not act as a mass noun. In that example, there is an implied "its" in front of both "form" and "function:" "(Its) form follows (its) function." And "its" can be replaced with any possessive: "Fred's form follows Fred's function." "The iPhone's form follows the iPhone's function."
And here we see that the "form follows function" example is bogus. I imagine Forrest Gump would take no issue with "iPhone's form follows iPhone's function," but most people would be more comfortable saying "The iPhone's form follows the iPhone's function."
Here's a better test. When there's "many" of something, we use "many" if it's a counting noun, and "much" if it's a mass noun. ("Many chairs" vs. "much furniture.") So, by means of a concrete example: Would you say complicated, overreaching software has:
I reckon the latter two are accepted more widely than the first.
Remind me what this had to do with filesystems again? I must thoroughly apologize for having highlighted the obscure trivia of "dependences" vs. "dependencies."
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