to a first approximation
to a first approximation /adj./ 1. [techspeak] When one is doing
certain numerical computations, an approximate solution may be
computed by any of several heuristic methods, then refined to a
final value. By using the starting point of a first approximation
of the answer, one can write an algorithm that converges more
quickly to the correct result. 2. In jargon, a preface to any
comment that indicates that the comment is only approximately true.
The remark "To a first approximation, I feel good" might indicate
that deeper questioning would reveal that not all is perfect (e.g.,
a nagging cough still remains after an illness).
Return to Cool Jargon of the Day