A feature of Universal Grammar that handles the variation among languages. For example, pro-drop is a parameter that has the value + for languages that allow omission of subjects (such as Italian and Spanish) and that has the value - for languages that require that the subject be expressed (such as English).

In Algol-speak, a parameter is one of the named entities supplied to a procedure; what is usually known as an argument.

In FORTRAN, we speak of
subroutines with arguments.
In Algol,
procedures with parameters.
In Pascal,
procedures (if they do not return a value) or functions (if they do) with arguments.
In C and C++,
functions with arguments.
In Prolog,
predicates with variables.

They are all the same thing. These are not differences between the languages, but differences in the terminology typically used to discuss them.

Just one example of the hopeless terminological confusion that abounds in computing science.

In statistics, a parameter is a number that describes the entire population. The mean of a population is a parameter of this population. In statistical practice, it is often impossible to know a parameter of a population; instead, a statistic is computed from a sample taken from this population and used to estimate the parameter.

See also: confidence interval.

Pa*ram"e*ter (?), n. [Pref. para- + -meter: cf. F. parametre.]

1. (a) Math.

A term applied to some characteristic magnitude whose value, invariable as long as one and the same function, curve, surface, etc., is considered, serves to distinguish that function, curve, surface, etc., from others of the same kind or family.

Brande & C. (b)

Specifically Conic Sections, in the ellipse and hyperbola, a third proportional to any diameter and its conjugate, or in the parabola, to any abscissa and the corresponding ordinate.

⇒ The parameter of the principal axis of a conic section is called the latus rectum.

2. Crystallog.

The ratio of the three crystallographic axes which determines the position of any plane; also, the fundamental axial ratio for a given species.


© Webster 1913.

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