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What Does Parameter Mean?

In computing, a parameter is an input that is passed to a function, method, program, or command in order to customize its behavior or influence its output.


AI and ML Parameters

In AI and machine learning, a parameter is a value that is used to configure a model or learning algorithm. Parameters can be learned from data, or they can be set manually. The values of the parameters determine how the model or algorithm works, and they can have a significant impact on the model’s performance.

For example, in a linear regression model, the parameters are the coefficients that multiply the features of the data. The values of these coefficients determine how the model predicts the target variable.

In a neural network, the parameters are the weights and biases of the network. The values of these weights and biases determine how the network learns to map the input features to the output targets.

The choice of parameters is a critical part of the machine learning process. The right set of parameters can lead to a model that is very accurate, while the wrong set of parameters can lead to a model that is very inaccurate.

Techopedia Explains

There are two main types of parameters in machine learning:

  • Model parameters: These are the parameters that are learned from the data. The values of these parameters are determined by the model’s optimization algorithm.
  • Hyperparameters: These are the parameters that are set manually before the model is trained. The values of these parameters can affect the performance of the model, but they are not learned from the data.

The choice of hyperparameters is a trial-and-error process. The goal is to find a set of hyperparameters that leads to a model that is both accurate and efficient.

Programming Parameters

In computer programming, parameters pass data into functions (also known as methods or subroutines), which are are blocks of code that perform specific tasks. When the function is called, the parameter acts as a placeholder for the actual data that will be provided. By using different values as parameters, the same function can be used to perform similar operations on different data.

Parameters can also be added through the command line to modify a program’s behavior or provide specific input. This use of parameters is often preceded by dashes or slashes.

In web development, parameters can be added to URLs to pass information between web pages or to web servers. This type of parameter is known as a query parameter.

Query parameters can be added manually or programmatically to a URL after a question mark ?. If multiple parameters are present, they are separated by ampersands &.


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.