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In Greek para means "beside"; what do scientists call constant quantities beside which other quantities are measured?

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Answer: parameters

The word parameter (1656) derives from the Greek para, beside, and metron, measure.


This word parameter(s) has two odd senses: one explicit, i.e, something that is meseaurable, having limitations and so can be contained; but on the other side, one that is beyond measurability.

This second sense is not said, but we certainly have it in our two words, parapsychic and parapsychology.
pamproductions55 at &

I always thought of a parameter as an "arbitrary value" or placeholder in an equation which I believe is consistent with your definition.

Programmers muddy the waters by applying two definitions to the word.

They distinguish between a "formal parameter," which is a place holder for an arbitrary value, and an "actual parameter," which is the value substituted for the parameter when computing the result.

In the popular vernacular, parameter is more often used incorrectly to mean a limit or boundary. Will this become a new definition of the word in future dictionaries?
tryg at &

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. I think you got his one wrong!

[Mootguy: I've been wrong before. That's why I send these questions out. One of you guys will tell me whether the question works or not.Does this rephrasing work better? In Greek para means "beside"; what do scientists call quantities beside which other quantities are measured?]
jestromm at &

I think that second question works better; does not specify the "nature" of the initial quantity. Emphasizes the concept of "beside." Which incidentally, works for definitions of words such as paranormal, paralegal or parapsychology. Not so much "immeasurable" as "parallel."
slundgren at &

In response to the business of being "beyond measurability": Don't think this is quite right; "parapsychological" phenomena might (or might not) be immeasurable, but I think the main idea is that there is another psychological sphere existing alongside the conventionally recognized one. Whether it is measurable or not is another question entirely.
jacko at &

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