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Parametrically Speaking

Bruce W. Armstrong, MD
JAMA. 1966;195(11):970-971. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100110138050.
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To the Editor:—  After a solid ten years of search through dictionaries, indexes, and contexts, your Dr. Schor has finally answered my question, "What the heck is a parameter?" (193:662, 1965). It is a number that describes a population. Well, now!I was a student of Dr. John Kelley's elegant TV program on modern mathematics and am the owner of a copy of his text, unique for its admixture of pathos and science, in which a footnote reads:I'm not quite sure what a parameter is, but I think you call a number a parameter when you're thinking about a function whose domain is a set of numbers.Now if Kelley isn't sure, what he says isn't going to be exactly clear to me, and the situation is pretty grim, when numbers, regardless of what else you call them, start being called parameters. As nearly as I can tell,


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