# parameter

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## parameter

a measurable characteristic; a constant factor serving as a limit; guidelines: the basic parameters of our foreign policy

**Not to be confused with:**

perimeter – the circumference or outline of a closed figure; outer boundary of an enclosed area: the perimeter of the estate

## pa·ram·e·ter

(pə-răm′ĭ-tər)*n.*

**1.**

*Mathematics*

**a.**A constant in an equation that varies in other equations of the same general form, especially such a constant in the equation of a curve or surface that can be varied to represent a family of curves or surfaces.

**b.**One of a set of independent variables that express the coordinates of a point.

**2.**

**a.**One of a set of measurable factors, such as temperature and pressure, that define a system and determine its behavior and are varied in an experiment.

**b.**

*Usage Problem*A factor that restricts what is possible or what results: "all the parameters of shelter—where people will live, what mode of housing they will choose, and how they will pay for it" (New York).

**c.**A factor that determines a range of variations; a boundary: an experimental school that keeps expanding the parameters of its curriculum.

**3.**

*Statistics*A quantity, such as a mean, that is calculated from data and describes a population.

**4.**

*Usage Problem*A distinguishing characteristic or feature.

[New Latin parametrum,

*a line through the focus and parallel to the directrix of a conic*: Greek para-,*beside*; see**para-**^{1}+ Greek metron,*measure*; see**-meter**.]**par′a·met′ric**(păr′ə-mĕt′rĭk),

**par′a·met′ri·cal**

*adj.*

**par′a·met′ri·cal·ly**

*adv.*

**The term**

*Usage Note:**parameter,*which originates in mathematics, has a number of specific meanings in fields such as astronomy, electricity, crystallography, and statistics. Perhaps because of its ring of technical authority, people have applied

*parameter*more generally in recent years to refer to any factor that determines a range of variations and especially to a factor that restricts what results from a process or policy. In this use, the word

*parameter*is used to mean "the particular value of a parameter," and comes close to meaning "a set limit or boundary." For example, a budget can be thought of as a set of parameters that determine a range of activity, much like a set of mathematical parameters that establish the range of effects, or limits, of other variables. The sentence

*A budget is a framework that defines the financial parameters within which an organization operates*was considered acceptable by 81 percent of the Usage Panel in our 2004 survey.

*Parameter*is sometimes used incorrectly when it does not denote a range of variation, as if it were a technical-sounding synonym for

*characteristic.*In 1988, 88 percent of the Usage Panel rejected the sentence

*The Judeo-Christian ethic is one of the important parameters of Western culture.*In 2004, 77 percent rejected this same sentence, suggesting that familiarity has not bred tolerance of this usage.

## parameter

(pəˈræmɪtə)*n*

**1.**(Mathematics) one of a number of auxiliary variables in terms of which all the variables in an implicit functional relationship can be explicitly expressed. See parametric equations

**2.**(Mathematics) a variable whose behaviour is not being considered and which may for present purposes be regarded as a constant, as

*y*in the partial derivative ∂f(

*x,y*)/∂

*x*

**3.**(Statistics)

*statistics*a characteristic of the distribution of a population, such as its mean, as distinct from that of a sample. Compare statistic

**4.**

*informal*any constant or limiting factor: a designer must work within the parameters of budget and practicality.

[C17: from New Latin; see para-

^{1}, -meter]**parametric**,

**ˌparaˈmetrical**

*adj*

## pa•ram•e•ter

(pəˈræm ɪ tər)*n.*

**1.**

**a.**a constant or variable term in a mathematical function that determines the specific form of the function but not its general nature, as

*a*in

*f(x)*=

*ax,*where

*a*determines only the slope of the line described by f(x).

**b.**one of the independent variables in a set of parametric equations.

**2.**a variable entering into the mathematical form of any statistical distribution such that the possible values of the variable correspond to different distributions.

**3.**a variable that must be given a specific value during the execution of either a computer program or a procedure within a program.

**4.**Usu.,

**parameters.**limits or boundaries; guidelines: to keep within the parameters of the discussion.

**5.**a determining characteristic; factor: a useful parameter for judging long-term success.

**par•a•met•ric**(ˌpær əˈmɛ trɪk) par`a•met′ri•cal,

*adj.*

**usage:**The use of parameter in the newer senses, “limits” or “characteristic” is often strongly criticized. Though the criticized uses are now well established both in educated speech and in edited writing, it is easy to substitute “limits” or “characteristics” if desired.

## pa·ram·e·ter

(pə-răm′ĭ-tər) A quantity whose value can vary in general but is fixed when the quantity is used in a specific mathematical expression involving one or more other variables. For example, in finding the area of a circle, one needs to know the length of the circle's radius; that length is a parameter that will have different values for circles of different sizes.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonyms

**Legend:**Switch to new thesaurus

Noun | 1. | parameter - a constant in the equation of a curve that can be varied to yield a family of similar curvesdegree of freedom - one of the minimum number of parameters needed to describe the state of a physical system |

2. | parameter - any factor that defines a system and determines (or limits) its performancefactor - anything that contributes causally to a result; "a number of factors determined the outcome" | |

3. | parameter - (computer science) a reference or value that is passed to a function, procedure, subroutine, command, or programvalue - a numerical quantity measured or assigned or computed; "the value assigned was 16 milliseconds" computer science, computing - the branch of engineering science that studies (with the aid of computers) computable processes and structures address, computer address, reference - (computer science) the code that identifies where a piece of information is stored | |

4. | parameter - a quantity (such as the mean or variance) that characterizes a statistical population and that can be estimated by calculations from sample dataquantity - the concept that something has a magnitude and can be represented in mathematical expressions by a constant or a variable |

## parameter

*noun*

*(Informal)*

*(usually plural)*limit, constant, restriction, guideline, criterion, framework, limitation, specification We have to define the basic parameters within which we want to operate.

Translations

**parametr**

**parameeter**

**parametri**

## pa·ram·e·ter

*n.*parámetro, aspecto, evaluación de un asunto.

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