There is an sentence in a document:

You can seed the arguments with an array of args, but this is only used internally

How to understand the word seed? Does the sentence mean:

You can pass an array of args as the arguments of the function

  • You might be interested in our sister site English Language Learners. Also see seed, it is a metaphorical use. Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 16:07
  • 2
    @Matt: This isn't an ELL question; it's a computing terminology question. Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 16:23
  • @PeterShor: the use of seed metaphorically, regardless the field, seems better placed at ELL. In computing terminology, seed is most often used in reference to RNGs, not arguments, so it doesn't seem particularly terminological. Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 16:31
  • @Matt Seed, as a metaphor, is not most often used in anything. It can be used in almost everything though Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 16:41
  • @RaduMiron that's not what I meant. I meant that in computing, seed most often refers to what you do to RNGs. Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


It could mean

You could store the arguments in an array (made out of those arguments) - which (array) could, of course, be used as an argument of a function

But it could also mean

You could define the arguments as arrays made out of other arguments - which (arguments) could also be used as arguments of a function

Maybe you can figure it out from the context. What program are you using?


As Matt has stated, the seeding often refers to Pseudo-random number generators.

(The seed informs the RNG how to generate its first pseudo-random number that you ask for. If you used the same seed each program execution, you would get the same list of pseudo-random numbers. See https://stackoverflow.com/questions/15182496/why-does-this-code-print-hello-world to see how a careful choice of seeds may print out an encrypted message.)

I'm inferring that you may send arguments to your function as seeds. (It's probably not an RNG, which would most likely take a single seed.) If the function were searching for the roots of a polynomial, then the seeds might function as initial guesses to the roots. If the function were searching for an Internal Rate of Return, the seed would be a guess as to the actual IRR. If you choose seeds that were close to the final value, you would be rewarded with fewer iterations to solve.

In both the RNG and the polynomial guessing, a seed provides a starting point for the generator or the solver, which is why it works as a metaphor.


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