Talk:Parameter

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Parameter article[edit]

You see it can be done. Many thanks, Andrewa, this is an excellent piece of work and I hope other mathematicians will take this as an example. Now we have all the tools for understanding the article and it is up to us now. Dieter Simon 01:03, 25 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I don't like the tenor of this page at all. It not only seems to make no distinction between a parameter and an argument to a function, but it seems to actually deny that there is any difference. More later........ Michael Hardy 22:50, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

A distinction should also be made between a parameter that can be measured for an object and an attribute of an object. DFH 13:01, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

Hum, restricting myself to the mathematics section. Its common to talk of a parameterised curve something like a circle which has a parametric equation (\cos(t),\sin(t)) with a parameter t does this fit? --Salix alba (talk) 23:43, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Poor ordinary reader of Wikipedia[edit]

Please, please, please, take account of the majority of non-expert readers, who have come across the term "parameter" and want to find out what it is all about. Try to explain it to them in a way they can understand.

What is meant by an encyclopaedia such as Wikipedia? It is not a talking-shop among mathematicians, computer-scientists or logicians, nor is it a project for the advances of these sciences, it is purely and simply a way to find out about subjects I or many others do not know anything about, having other constituent terms explained and made reference to as we go along. You are mentioning the would-be keywords argument, open-predicate, etc., in italics, but omit to either explain them in the article nor reference them to any other Wiki article, where one could have them explained. Why not start in simple terms, explicating formulae, etc., and advance to a stage which allows you to make it creditable in the eyes of fellow-experts? Surely, there must be a way? I, as a humble layman, would warm to you in appreciation. Thank you. Dieter Simon 00:02, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps, I should add, there are too many "givens", terms which are assumed to mean something to inexperts when it is precisely those in fact, they want to consult an encyclopaedia about in first place. Dieter Simon 00:58, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

--- --- ---

^^ Agreed, as a student at a UC looking for the defenition of Parameter as it applies specifically to the disparity between a statistic and parameter, this page had far too much jargon for me to make sense of it, or determine the definition myself. (04 May 2006, User: Evan Senter)

^^Also agreed, this is way to complicated for the average person. I suggest keeping the complicated stuff but leaving a section at the begginning explaining in simple terms what a parameter is.

I never thought this page was well written. It seems not as bad as it used to be. But "parameter" is a concept defined a bit vaguely, and mathematicians have trouble writing clearly about things defined vaguely. I read a brilliant exposition of this idea once. I'm going to try to find it. I may quote part of it here, with attribution. Michael Hardy 02:08, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Thank you, Michael, it would be appreciated. Dieter Simon 23:30, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
I found it. I've added a short quote from it near the beginning. Michael Hardy 00:53, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Many thanks. Dieter Simon 22:03, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Improve paragraphs not remove them[edit]

I think parts of the article should be improved, not just removed. Have reverted. Dieter Simon 00:20, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

For normal people who have neither need for nor interest in mathematics, it would be sensible just to say what is generally meant by "parameter" and in particular to help distinguish between "parameter" and "criterion", two terms that are commonly but incorrectly interchanged. John Monteith (an environmental physicist who knew his maths) used the term parameter to mean a value (possibly but not necessarily numerical) derived from more than one predefined and objectively measurable factor. Thus: a parameter of success in scientific research is the number of papers published per year multiplied by the impact factor of the learned journal in which each was published; a parameter for water use efficiency of a plant is the number of H20 molecules lost per CO2 molecule fixed; a parameter for automobile efficiency is the number of kilometers travelled per liter of fuel consumed; a parameter of social good is the benefit which accrues to the most people minus the harm done to others. jon

Well yes, Jon. Sounds a good idea, so how about translating that into the actual article, so ordinary readers may get the benefit. Not everone reads the Talk pages. You may get some feedback from other experts, though, but if you know what you are talking about there should be no prob. Dieter Simon 23:28, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

i'd have done that if i had been able to find a way of editing the definition itself. as it is i seem only to have access to the examples etc. jon

I'm not sure what you mean, you can't edit the actual article of Parameter? Would Wikipedia:How to edit a page help? Dieter Simon 00:13, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Why I removed paragraph[edit]

The reason I removed the paragraph on parametric equalisers was that the (engineering) context was too specific. I can understand what the paragraph is trying to say, but a more general example should be given instead. I'll shift the parametric equaliser paragraph further down to the engineering section instead.132.234.251.211 00:54, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Ok, 132.234.251.211, we now why you removed it, so how about doing exactly what you have suggested, give a more general example? Yes, as I originally proposed, we should write articles which the less initiated reader understands and then work on for the more technically-minded. Do you think you feel up to it? It would be appreciated. Dieter Simon 22:52, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Reorganization[edit]

I tried to reorganize the article and rewrite some sections to present a coherent discussion of what a parameter is, rather than just a loose collection of examples of where the word "parameter" pops up. I also thought that it's important, especially to lay readers or students trying to understand mathematical and scientific terminology, to distinguish a parameter from a variable or an argument. As a physical scientist, I know how I and my colleagues use the terms, at least when we're being careful, but I'm not sure everything I wrote is spot-on from a mathematician's or statistician's point of view. Michael, what do you think? --Atemperman 22:37, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Excellent work on a dificult subject. Dieter Simon 00:57, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

I think this needs to be split into a general page on what a parameter is for a complete layman and a more mathematical discussion. User:Mirams

What others say[edit]

The French Wikipedia gives the following definition of parameter: "Un paramètre est au sens large un élément d'information à prendre en compte pour prendre une décision ou pour effectuer un calcul." A rough translation into English may be: "A parameter is, in general meaning, a piece of information to be reckoned with in order to take a decision or to to perform a calculation."

Isn't this a simple and very general definition, good enough for many readers? The Swedes say:

"En parameter är en storhet som betraktas som konstant i en viss situation men som kan anta andra värden i andra situationer." A rough translation into English may be: "A parameter is a value, that is treated as constant in a given situation, but can have another value i another situation"

Also quite good and informative for non specialist readers.

Garbage? How about editing it so that everyone understands it?[edit]

Cuvette, rather than calling it "garbage", how about editing it so that it is factual but at the same time readable and making sense? We would appreciate it. It is an abstruse subject and people who come across the various strands want to understand it, I am sure. So, you are welcome to help us out here. Many thanks. Dieter Simon 01:00, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

Re examples: can you not try to make it easier for the layperson?[edit]

Once again we have reached a point when only mathematicians understand what you are talking about. Please do try to see my point here. I know the subject is abstruse and difficult for the lay person, and to write in such a way they can understand what you are talking about, isn't easy. This is an encyclopaedia, for goodness sake, not a learned treatise only like-minded mathematicians and logicians understand. You must lead people into your arguments in a way they understand, try to put yourselves into their place, not assume everyone is brilliant enough to follow you. Start from the beginning if need be, so all the terms you are using make sense to the uninitiated, because it is they who want to find out all about this, that is what an encyclopaedia is all about. Dieter Simon (talk) 01:51, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

Dieter, I had the same problem over at Hilbert space. It took months, if not years, before the opening paragraph was comprehensible to a lay person, and I got a lot of push-back from experts.
Perhaps we'll see the same result here, eventually. *sigh*
*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 06:26, 30 November 2009 (UTC)
All your efforts are very much appreciated, many thanks. Dieter Simon (talk) 18:58, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

You could easily illustrate the difference between a parameter and a variable by using f(x)=ax. Changing "a" would change the slope and thereby allow the purpose of this particular parameter to become visual and easy to grasp. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tomowsiak (talkcontribs) 17:46, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

What is a parameter?[edit]

How's this for a precise definition of two of the senses? The first sense appears scattered through the article in many vaguely and differently worded guises. The second is the sense described in the section Analytic geometry.

(1) Given an n-ary function, say the 5-ary function F = F(_,_,_,_,_) (that is a function of n arguments, a function of n independent variables), and given an (n-k)-ary function, say the (5-2)-ary (that is, 3-ary) function F(q,r,_,_,_) = f(_,_,_) = f, the k variables which are inputted to turn the n-ary function F into (n-k)-ary functions of the form f are called parameters of the class of all possible (n-k)-ary functions of the form f (the latter functions differing from each other according to the values of the parameters, in this case q and r).

(2) The argument (independent variable) of the vector-valued function defined by a so-called parametric equation. That is, a function from some interval of R to some real coordinate space specific to that function.

Dependent Variable (talk) 06:58, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

my understanding of differences between parameters and variables[edit]

a mathematic model described by mathematic functions includes parameters and variables. variables determine the function structure(type of mathematic functions, symmetric or non-symmetric). parameters change some function properties(increasing function or decreasing function). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jiancontrol (talkcontribs) 19:18, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Error[edit]

I just deleted the following definition, which was included in the lead paragraph:

Parameter- is a computation from data values recorded- but it is not actually a data value recorded from a subject. Example: for a population of test scores, a parameter would not be an actual score, but perhaps an average computed from all scores, or a percent computed from all scores.

That's a definition of 'statistic', not a definition of 'parameter'. Sometimes the word 'parameter' is used that way in everyday speech, but it's an error. Rinconsoleao (talk) 12:11, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Main definition[edit]

Most of the article is very clear and helpful, but the first paragraph is awful. In 2008 there was a comprehensible lead paragraph, although it failed to define 'parameter' precisely. Here's the main definition as of 2008:

In mathematics, statistics, and the mathematical sciences, a parameter (G: auxiliary measure) is a quantity that defines certain characteristics of systems or functions. In different contexts the term may have special usage.

Now (2011) I simply can't understand the first sentence, and I'm particularly perplexed by the way the word 'variable' shows up twice in a row. Here's the current definition, July 2011:

In mathematics, statistics, and the mathematical sciences, a parameter (G: auxiliary measure) is a quantity that serves to relate functions and variables using a common variable when such a relationship would be difficult to explicate with an equation. In different contexts, the term may have special uses.

From all the examples, one gets the following picture: functions may be said to depend on 'variables' and 'parameters'. Changing a variable means moving along the axis (or axes), whereas changing a parameter means shifting the curve. Can anyone state that in a more precise and correct way? Rinconsoleao (talk) 12:53, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

I would suggest the following as definition:

In mathematics, statistics, and the mathematical sciences, a parameter is a quantity that can be changed but is being held fixed (within some discourse). The concept is thus an intermediate between variable and constant, the distinctions from which are in both cases subjective.

That parameter in parametric curve and one-parameter group is taken to mean independent variable is effectively a separate meaning of the word and the article should state so clearly. This second meaning does however arise as a degenerate case of the general meaning, since the things being unified by the parametrisation are not functions or graphs of same, but individual points. 130.239.234.45 (talk) 16:06, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

I think that, even if the common meaning of the term is restricted to an independent variable or an external influence, this definition must be preserved in the introduction which is addressing common users. The intro should not enter into scientific demonstration but only refer to the different meanings that are developed later in the article. The use of the term "parameter" is not restricted to science. It is commonly used in arts, in architecture, in philosophy, in politics and so on... Any artistic or architectural project will be designed in relation to diverse parameters which can be environmental, emotional, technical and so on. Why should the article favour the mathematical meaning of the term?--Christophe Krief (talk) 22:20, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Proposed split[edit]

I think the contents related to mathematics and statistics should be split to a new article Parameter (mathematics) and that this article should be a disambiguation page listing various uses of the word parameter. What do other people think? Isheden (talk) 13:43, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

  • I think that it would be preferable to keep the article as one, because to my understanding, the different meanings of the term are related; and it is the variety of meanings that make the term rich and interesting.--Christophe Krief (talk) 22:16, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Computing vs. Computer Programming[edit]

I split the use of parameter in computing from the computer programming discussion. This is still not a good fit, but this more general usage of parameter doesn't go with the detailed discussion of arguments and parameters in the computer programming section, which I think might be confusing (IMO). It also doesn't fit any other of the mentioned uses. This usage of "parameter" is more general, for example a program to analyze some data could be run with the limits of acceptable vs. unacceptable values as parameters, or a program to integrate a function could be run with the limits as parameters. Peter Flass (talk) 14:12, 7 March 2014 (UTC)