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Is there a word in English which would encompass both the action of increasing or decreasing [the value of] something?

I am looking at a word similar to modify, change or alter. But the first two do not denote the fact that the current value would be slightly changed and I feel the the last one is a bit general.

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The verb change carries with it no connotation of degree. You can change something a little or a lot, and in a positive or negative direction. An antonym for to change would be to stay the same, so it appears you have your answer. – Robusto Jan 20 '12 at 12:12
I would like to where you have intended (now decided) to use the word: the sentence and the context. – Kris Jan 21 '12 at 5:12
At the end I decided to use two separate words (increase and decrease) because using the proposed hypernym (vary) would bring more confusion than using the two separate terms (as I had to use it). – obaqueiro Jan 27 '12 at 8:19
up vote 7 down vote accepted

One such word (and one commonly used by scientists) is vary.

Like increase and decrease, it is not explicit whether vary is an action performed on the variable, or something that the variable "just does".

You should vary the input voltage and observe the result.

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Typically in technical usage, variation represents change: variations in voltage, current, so on. Moreover, while variation can mean drastic changes, it is typically associated with small differences in state, discrete or continuous.

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Yes, or the verb form, vary. – MετάEd Jan 20 '12 at 17:45

Fluctuate, fluctuation, depending on context, I like variance too

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If you specifically want to imply that the changes are small, vary is not entirely apt. I'd go with tweak "a fine adjustment to a mechanism or system" instead. Not to be confused with twerk, of course.

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How about: Delta, or variance.

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I do not know about the context. It might be undulate:

Undulate: To increase and decrease in volume or pitch as if in waves.

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what about "Modulate"? I think this word is the one closest to the context I am using. – obaqueiro Jan 20 '12 at 15:12
@obaqueiro, As I do not know your context I can say nothing. Here is a link for modulate – Mustafa Jan 20 '12 at 15:26
-1 Undulate refers specifically to repetition (cycles or waves). This is simply not right for the question. The question did not pertain in any way to repetition. – MετάEd Jan 20 '12 at 17:45
-1 Your very definition: To increase and decrease differs from what the OP wants. You may have misunderstood the question. Moreover, undulate is not used in technical reference to voltage, etc., -- it would be 'fluctuation'/'oscillation' and so on. – Kris Jan 21 '12 at 5:10
@Kris, we do not know about the context, which I especially put a stress on in my answer and comment. Even we do not know if it is something technical or not. Please read the second comment of OP's to this answer. – Mustafa Jan 21 '12 at 7:26

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