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HAKMEM
/hak'mem/ n. MIT AI Memo 239 (February 1972). A
legendary collection of neat mathematical and programming hacks
contributed by many people at MIT... VIEW ENTIRE DEFINITION
View Definition: to a first approximation

to a first approximation 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).