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The
number of pages in a book depends on the length of the
text P. It also depends on the number of words that
fit on a page T. The mathematical expression...
N...provides a useful formula for estimating book sizes. A 300,000-word text printed on 1,500-word pages would require 200 pages. Both are called "variables."
They are independent of each other. For a given book, it is the author
or the editor who determines N. The book designer decides
on T. Knowing N is not enough to calculateT. If
P is not known, you're stuck.
NThere are a couple of ways to assign a value to an independent
variable to make it into a "parameter": by calculation and by assumption.
Take might have to
be assumed, just to get on with it. Either calculated or assumed,
N
would then be fixed, and the number of pages N varies only
with P, the length of the text. T is
said to be a "parameter." Although it is a "variable," N
is holding still while N varies, you see.
TGenerally, the length of the text , gives the number of pages P
= T / N for various
values of P, the number of words which fit on each page.
N has become a "parameter" -- a "variable" which is held
constant.
T "Parametric Reasoning," the elementary thought process
illustrated above, affords great advantages to those who must deal with
quantitative problems of whatever complexity. The mathematical meaning
of "parameter" (sense 1) closely aligns with Then too, "arbitrary" values for parameters most often result from an ordered set of assumptions, also called a "model" -- arguably the most beneficial application of computers. Accordingly, Parametric Reasoning provides a numerical means by which to make assumptions explicit -- the most powerful intellectual instrument of discovery yet discovered! The more recent, non-mathematical meanings of parameter (senses 2a and 2b) are widely disputed. Examples abound: - The publisher was forced to stay within the parameters (fixed limits) of the dictionary's budget.
- The author attempted to widen the parameters (boundaries, in a more general sense) of the dictionary's content.
- Diversity was a parameter (characteristic or defining element) of the dictionary's entries.
Parameter is a distinguished word with a precise meaning, which has been appropriated and exploited by pretenders. The term has declined into the means only for self embarrassment... "Let's go over the parameters of the problem -- whatever that's supposed to mean, ha ha." |

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