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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ The bridge is a major commutation route.
▪ During his last-minute flurry of pardons and commutations before leaving office, Clinton reduced their sentences to 24 to 30 months.
▪ Of course ordinary numbers do have this commutation property; 2 x 3 and 3 x 2 are both undoubtedly 6.
▪ Since 1900, presidents have issued 13, 638 pardons and 6, 309 commutations of sentence.
▪ The former president has denied granting any pardons or commutations for any reason other than the merits.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Commutation \Com`mu*ta"tion\, n. [L. commutatio: cf. F. commutation.]

  1. A passing from one state to another; change; alteration; mutation. [R.]

    So great is the commutation that the soul then hated only that which now only it loves.

  2. The act of giving one thing for another; barter; exchange.

    The use of money is . . . that of saving the commutation of more bulky commodities.

  3. (Law) The change of a penalty or punishment by the pardoning power of the State; as, the commutation of a sentence of death to banishment or imprisonment.

    Suits are allowable in the spiritual courts for money agreed to be given as a commutation for penance.

  4. A substitution, as of a less thing for a greater, esp. a substitution of one form of payment for another, or one payment for many, or a specific sum of money for conditional payments or allowances; as, commutation of tithes; commutation of fares; commutation of copyright; commutation of rations.

  5. regular travel from a place of residence to a place where one's daily work is performed; commuting. Most often, such travel is performed between a suburb and a nearby city.

    Angle of commutation (Astron.), the difference of the geocentric longitudes of the sun and a planet.

    Commutation of tithes, the substitution of a regular payment, chargeable to the land, for the annual tithes in kind.

    Commutation ticket, a ticket, as for transportation, which is the evidence of a contract for service at a reduced rate. See 2d Commute, 2.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

mid-15c., from Old French commutacion "change, transformation, exchange, barter" (13c., Modern French commutation), from Latin commutationem (nominative commutatio) "a change, alteration," noun of action from past participle stem of commutare "to change, alter entirely" (see commute (v.)).


n. 1 (context obsolete English) A passing from one state to another; change; alteration; mutation. 2 (context obsolete English) The act of giving one thing for another; barter; exchange. 3 (context formal or archaic English) substitution of one thing for another; interchange. 4 Specifically, the substitution of one kind of payment for another, especially a switch to monetary payment from obligations of labour. 5 (context legal English) The change to a lesser penalty or punishment by the State 6 (context linguistics English) substitution, as a means of discriminating between phonemes. 7 (context electronics English) The reversal of an electric current.

  1. n. the travel of a commuter [syn: commuting]

  2. a warrant substituting a lesser punishment for a greater one

  3. (law) the reduction in severity of a punishment imposed by law [syn: re-sentencing]

  4. the act of putting one thing or person in the place of another: "he sent Smith in for Jones but the substitution came too late to help" [syn: substitution, exchange]

Commutation (neurophysiology)

In neurophysiology, commutation is the process of how the brain's neural circuits exhibit non- commutativity. Physiologist Douglas B. Tweed and coworkers consider whether certain neural circuits in the brain exhibit noncommutativity and state:

In noncommutative algebra, order makes a difference to multiplication, so that a × b ≠ b × a. This feature is necessary for computing rotary motion, because order makes a difference to the combined effect of two rotations. It has therefore been proposed that there are non-commutative operators in the brain circuits that deal with rotations, including motor system circuits that steer the eyes, head and limbs, and sensory system circuits that handle spatial information. This idea is controversial: studies of eye and head control have revealed behaviours that are consistent with non-commutativity in the brain, but none that clearly rules out all commutative models.

Tweed goes on to demonstrate non-commutative computation in the vestibulo-ocular reflex by showing that subjects rotated in darkness can hold their gaze points stable in space - correctly computing different final eye-position commands when put through the same two rotations in different orders, in a way that is unattainable by any commutative system.

Usage examples of "commutation".

As there is a kind of commutation in favors, when, to wit, a man gives thanks for a favor received, so also is there commutation in the matter of offenses, when, on account of an offense committed against another, a man is either punished against his will, which pertains to vindictive justice, or makes amends of his own accord, which belongs to penance, which regards the person of the sinner, just as vindictive justice regards the person of the judge.

It has not been announced or decided in any form by the Provost-Marshal-General, or any one else in authority of the Government, that every citizen who has paid his three hundred dollars commutation is liable to be immediately drafted again, or that towns that have just raised the money to pay their quotas will have again to be subject to similar taxation or suffer the operations of the new conscription, nor it is probable that the like of them ever will be announced or decided.

During a period of appeals, several people, including Edward Reilly, approached Hauptmann in prison with the hope that he would confess in return for a commutation of his death sentence to life.

It is likely that leading Baltimore Unionists were enlisted in his behalf through family connections, and as the Border State Unionists were then potent at Washington, they readily secured a commutation of his sentence to imprisonment during the war.

For more than a year the Michigan Parole Board left the commutation request pending.

Harry Keywell remained in prison for two more years, until Governor Romney signed a commutation order.

The parole board feels that more years of imprisonment are needed before both men attain commutation status.

Before now, the Child Empress had always been the one to issue clemencies and commutations.

Stopping to buy a new commutation ticket at the Pneumatique, he passed the time with an Esper 3, on duty at the Information Desk, who passed Fred the word about Barbara D'Courtney.

He explained to him the shuttle armature and the self-exciting field, and commutation.