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coefficient of X
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Hackish speech makes heavy use of pseudo-mathematical
metaphors. Four particularly important ones involve the terms
"coefficient", "factor", "index", and "quotient". They are
often loosely applied to things you cannot really be
quantitative, but there are subtle distinctions among them
that convey information about the way the speaker mentally
models whatever he or she is describing.
"Foo factor" and "foo quotient" tend to describe something for
which the issue is one of presence or absence. The canonical
example is fudge factor. It's not important how much you're
fudging; the term simply acknowledges that some fudging is
needed. You might talk of liking a movie for its silliness
factor. Quotient tends to imply that the property is a ratio
of two opposing factors: "I would have won except for my luck
quotient." This could also be "I would have won except for
the luck factor", but using *quotient* emphasises that it was
bad luck overpowering good luck (or someone else's good luck
overpowering your own).
"Foo index" and "coefficient of foo" both tend to imply that
foo is, if not strictly measurable, at least something that
can be larger or smaller. Thus, you might refer to a paper or
person as having a "high bogosity index", whereas you would be
less likely to speak of a "high bogosity factor". "Foo index"
suggests that foo is a condensation of many quantities, as in
the mundane cost-of-living index; "coefficient of foo"
suggests that foo is a fundamental quantity, as in a
coefficient of friction. The choice between these terms is
often one of personal preference; e.g. some people might feel
that bogosity is a fundamental attribute and thus say
"coefficient of bogosity", whereas others might feel it is a
combination of factors and thus say "bogosity index".