One of the common definitions of homology using the singular chains, i.e. maps from the simplex into your space. The free abelian group on these can be made into a chain complex and one can take the homology of this. The result is usually called singular homology.

However, one can use a smaller chain complex instead, by taking the quotient with the degenerate chains (those that are the image of a degeneracy map $\sigma$). This will give the same result in homology.

In some articles, I've seen authors replace the singular chains with the normalized singular chains, often claiming that this is "for technical reasons" (a example is Costello's article on the Gromov-Witten potential associated to a TCFT). What are the important technical differences between these two functors? In which situations is there a preferred one?