One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A numerical or other measurable factor forming one of a set that defines a system or sets the conditions of its operation.‘the transmission will not let you downshift unless your speed is within the lower gear's parameters’
instructions, stipulations, requirements, conditions, provisions, restrictions, provisos, guidelines, parameters, orderView synonyms
- ‘The set of code modules includes code modules associated with a plurality of system configuration parameters.’
- ‘Now we need to optimize the system and improve its operation parameters and design.’
- ‘The first circuit is configured to monitor an electrical operating parameter associated with operation of the CAN bus.’
- ‘An operator can input the parameters that define the geometry of the valve seat profile.’
- ‘The programming uses script files that contain specific system parameters to operate in each of these modes.’
- 1.1Mathematics A quantity whose value is selected for the particular circumstances and in relation to which other variable quantities may be expressed.
- ‘The real effort goes into testing these hypotheses and calculating the true values of parameters such as N.’
- ‘As gene diversity is a continuous variable, the expected value of the parameter was calculated using a sliding window of 0.0125.’
- ‘The x-axis is the value of the selection parameter in the PRF model under which the data were simulated.’
- ‘Choosing different values for the various parameters in the equation he then tried to investigate when situations were stable and when they were unstable.’
- ‘On the other hand, keeping m and n fixed for a few trials leaves a lot of room to experiment with the third parameter even for small values of m and n.’
- 1.2Statistics A numerical characteristic of a population, as distinct from a statistic of a sample.
- ‘This will remind test users that the reliability coefficient in hand is not the population parameter and that the reliability estimate is affected by sampling error.’
- ‘Such a ‘rate’ can be modeled statistically by the probability parameter of a binomial distribution.’
- ‘The normal curve approach to inference begins by asserting a null hypothesis that is expressed using population parameters.’
- ‘The spiral pattern is sufficiently regular that it leads to a numerical parameter characteristic for the species, called its divergence.’
- ‘Typically, polymorphism in a sample is needed to perform those tests and estimate population parameters.’
- 1.3 (in general use) a limit or boundary that defines the scope of a particular process or activity.‘they set the parameters of the debate’
framework, variable, limit, boundary, limiting factor, limitation, restriction, specification, criterion, guidelineView synonyms
- ‘One of the main benefits of a home birth is the amount of control a mother can exercise over the location and parameters of the birthing process.’
- ‘First, I do not accept the framework you outline above as limiting the parameters of our debate.’
- ‘However, I can't get away from the fact that my guiding parameters are somewhat limited by my lack of motoring knowledge.’
- ‘Such a voluntary approach is limited to the parameters the company sets for itself.’
- ‘And so, media debate is restricted within tightly constrained parameters that serve capital, but not democracy.’
Until recently, use of the word parameter was confined to mathematics and related technical fields. Since around the mid 20th century, however, it has been used in nontechnical fields as a technical-sounding word for ‘a limit or boundary,’ as in they set the parameters of the debate. This use, probably influenced by the word perimeter, has been criticized for being a weakening of the technical sense. Careful writers will leave parameter to specialists in mathematics, computer science, and other technical disciplines. As a loose synonym for limit, boundary, guideline, framework, it is a vogue word that blurs more than it clarifies. Perimeter is a different word, meaning ‘border, outer boundary, or the length of such a boundary.’
Mid 17th century: modern Latin, from Greek para- ‘beside’ + metron ‘measure’.
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