The two examples are seen quite often in literature (especially in technical/medical texts), with the former being more common. Are they strictly equivalent? What subtle nuances distinguish the two? Thanks for your comments.
I agree with Anonymous #296250: I work as a writer and editor in an environment populated with native French speakers who write first drafts of technical documents in English. I see "this thing ASSOCIATES TO that thing" with great regularity, but it remains an error in translating "à". It has become so common in technical documents that it is generally accepted, but "ASSOCIATE WITH" is the correct formulation, gramatically-speaking.