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Engineering LibreTexts

Glossary

  • Page ID
    84556
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    Words Description
    Absolute error The difference between an approximation and an exact answer.
    Abstraction The process of ignoring the details of how a function works in order to focus on a simpler model of what the function does.
    Accumulator A variable that is used to accumulate a result a little bit at a time.
    Analytic solution A way of solving an equation by performing algebraic operations and deriving an explicit way to compute a solution.
    Apply A way of processing a vector by performing some operation on each of the elements, producing a vector that contains the results.
    Argument An expression that appears in a function call to specify the value the function operates on.
    Assignment statement A command that creates a new variable (if necessary) and gives it a value.
    Body The statements inside a loop that are run repeatedly.
    Call (a function) To cause a function to execute and compute a result.
    Column vector A matrix that has only one column.
    Command A line of MATLAB code executed by the interpreter.
    Comment Part of a program that provides additional information about the program but does not affect its execution.
    Compound statement A statement, like if and for , that contains other statements in an indented body.
    Concatenation The operation of joining two vectors or matrices end-to-end to form a new vector or matrix.
    Cross product A product of two vectors with norm %proportional to the norms of the vectors and the sine of the angle %between them, and direction perpendicular to both.
    Differential equation (DE) An equation that relates the derivatives of an unknown function.
    Directly (compute) A way of computing an element in a sequence without using previous elements.
    dot product: A scalar product of two vectors, proportional to the %norms of the vectors and the cosine of the smallest angle between them.
    Element (of a matrix) One of the values in a vector or matrix.
    Element (of a sequence) One of the numbers in a mathematical sequence.
    Elementwise An operation that acts on the elements of a vector or matrix (unlike some linear algebra operations).
    Encapsulation The process of wrapping part of a program in a function in order to limit interactions (including name collisions) between the function and the rest of the program.
    Evaluate To compute the value of an expression.
    Existential quantification A logical condition that expresses the idea that ''there exists'' an element of a set with a certain property.
    Expression A sequence of operands and operators that specifies a mathematical computation and yields a value.
    First-order DE A differential equation that includes only first derivatives.
    Floating-point A way to represent numbers in a computer.
    Function A named computation; for example, log10 is the name of a function that computes logarithms in base 10.
    Function call A command that executes a function.
    Function handle A function handle is a way of referring to a function by name (and passing it as an argument) in MATLAB without calling it.
    Generalization Making a function more versatile by replacing specific values with input variables.
    Helper function A function in an M-file that is not the top-level function; it can only be called from another function in the same file.
    Incremental development A way of programming by making a series of small, testable changes.
    Index An integer value used to indicate one of the values in a vector or matrix (also called subscript in some MATLAB documentation).
    Input variable A variable in a function that gets its value, when the function is called, from one of the arguments.
    Interpreter The program that reads and executes MATLAB code.
    Linear DE A differential equation that includes no products or powers of the function and its derivatives.
    Logical function A function that returns a logical value (1 for ''true'' or 0 for ''false'').
    Logical vector A vector, often the result of applying a logical operator to a vector, that contains logical values 1 and 0.
    Loop A part of a program that runs repeatedly.
    Loop variable A variable, defined in a loop, that gets assigned a different value each time through the loop.
    M-file A file that contains a MATLAB program.
    Matrix A two-dimensional collection of values (also called ''array'' in some MATLAB documentation).
    Name collision The scenario where two scripts that use the same variable name interfere with each other.
    Nested function call An expression that uses the result from one function call as an argument for another.
    Nesting Putting one compound statement in the body of another.
    Norm The magnitude of a vector, sometimes called ''length,'' but not to be confused with the number of elements in a MATLAB vector.
    Numerical method A method (or algorithm) for generating a numerical solution.
    Numerical solution A way of solving an equation by finding a numerical value that satisfies the equation, often approximately.
    Operand A number or variable that appears in an expression along with operators.
    Operator One of the symbols, like * and +, that represent mathematical operations.
    Order of operations The rules that specify which operations in an expression are performed first.
    Ordinary DE (ODE) A differential equation in which all derivatives are taken with respect to the same variable.
    Output variable A variable in a function that is used to return a value from the function to the caller.
    Pack To copy values from a set of variables into a vector.
    Parameter A value that appears in a model to quantify some physical aspect of the scenario being modeled.
    Partial DE (PDE) A differential equation that includes derivatives with respect to more than one variable.
    Phase plot A plot that shows the state of a system as a point in the space of possible states.
    Postcondition Something that will be true when the script completes.
    Precondition Something that must be true when the script starts, in order for it to work correctly.
    Projection The component of one vector that is in the direction of the other.
    Prompt The symbols the interpreter prints to indicate that it's waiting for the user to type a command.
    Range A matrix of values specified with the colon operator, for example, 1:5 .
    Recurrently A way of computing the next element of a sequence based on previous elements.
    Reduce A way of processing the elements of a vector and generating a single value, for example, the sum of the elements.
    Relative error The difference between an approximation and an exact answer, expressed as a fraction or percentage of the exact answer.
    Row vector A matrix that has only one row.
    Scaffolding Code you write to help you program or debug, but which is not part of the finished program.
    Scalar A single value.
    Scientific notation A format for typing and displaying large and small numbers, e.g., 3.0e8, which represents 3.0 x 108 or 300,000,000.
    Script An M-file that contains a sequence of MATLAB commands.
    Search A way of processing a vector by examining the elements in order until one is found that has the desired property.
    Search path The list of folders where MATLAB looks for M-files.
    Sequence A set of numbers that correspond to the positive integers, in mathematics.
    Series The sum of the elements in a sequence, in mathematics.
    Shadow A kind of name collision in which a new definition causes an existing definition to become invisible. In MATLAB, variable names can shadow built-in functions (with hilarious results).
    Side effect An effect, like modifying the workspace, that is not the primary purpose of a function or script.
    Signature The first line of a function definition, which specifies the names of the function, the input variables, and the output variables.
    Silent function A function that doesn't display anything, generate a figure, or have any other side effects.
    Spatial vector A value that represents a multidimensional physical quantity like position, velocity, acceleration, or force.
    State If a system can be described by a set of variables, the values of those variables are called the state of the system.
    String A value that consists of a sequence of characters.
    System of equations A collection of equations written in terms of the same set of variables.
    Target The variable on the left side of an assignment statement.
    Time step The interval in time between successive estimates in the numerical solution of a differential equation.
    Top-level function The first function in an M-file; it's the only function that can be called from the Command Window or from another file.
    Trajectory A path in a phase plot that shows how the state of a system changes over time.
    Transpose An operation that transforms the rows of a matrix into columns (and the other way around).
    Unit vector A vector with norm 1, used to indicate direction.
    Universal quantification A logical condition that expresses the idea that all elements of a set have a certain property.
    Unpack To copy the elements of a vector into a set of variables.
    Value The result of a computation, most often a number, string, or matrix.
    Variable A named value.
    Vector A sequence of values.
    Workspace A set of variables and their values.
    Zero (of a function) An argument that makes the value of a function 0.
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