# Can “values” “approach”? / Is it not completely reasonable to search for a definition that is not provided, and to suggest a revision? [closed]

I'm having a difficult time finding the meaning for the words "as the value of the oscillator approaches", in relief of the definitions provided by certain dictionaries, in the following paragraph:

A technical analysis tool that is banded between two extreme values and built with the results from a trend indicator for discovering short-term overbought or oversold conditions. As the value of the oscillator approaches the upper extreme value the asset is deemed to be overbought, and as it approaches the lower extreme it is deemed to be oversold. -http://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/oscillator.asp

value - mathematics - a point in the range of a function; a point in the range corresponding to a given point in the domain of a function: The value of x 2 at 2 is 4.

point - (maths) - a location

approach- 1. to come near or nearer to: The cars slowed down as they approached the intersection. 2. to come near to in quality, character, time, or condition; to come within range for comparison: As a poet he hardly approaches Keats.

Locations don't move, so I don't understand the use of "approaches" in the above context. And a "value" is not a moving point on a range.

Is the term "approached" or "value" being misused in the above paragraph?

How can "value" be defined satisfactorily so that it can be understood as a moving point in a range?

Or does "to be near" need to be added to the definition of "approach" so that it reads:

approach- 1. to come or to be near or nearer to: The cars slowed down as they approached the intersection. 2. to come or to be near to in quality, character, time, or condition; to come or to be within range for comparison: As a poet he hardly approaches Keats.

The paragraph is not understood with the following definition of "value" either:

a numerical quantity that is assigned or is determined by calculation or measurement

because once the quantity is assigned, for example 5, it is not subject to change; i.e. 5 does not ever become 6. So a value can never be said to be approaching another value.

(Whether or not the meaning of "value" according to the above definition also includes the state prior to the determination of the numerical quantity (and I'm wondering about this also) is not of consequence, since whatever it isn't yet still only corresponds to the singular quantity that will be determined in the future.)

Likewise, this definition doesn't help either:

value - Denomination (2) -->> a value or size of a series of values or sizes (as of money)

because even if a value is a constituent value of a series of values, it still can not be said to itself be changing or approaching.

definitions are from merriam-webster and dictionary.reference

If the answer is that dictionaries very often don't do all definitions justice, or that just the two dictionaries that I used don't (I don't know which answer is truer, but this one makes more sense to me, because I don't see why a dictionary shouldn't do as it purports to do), then I would like to know which answer it is, and also see an answer with sources that demonstrate this. If dictionaries don't cover all definitions I would like to know why there is a difference between the ones listed and the ones not listed. The fact that some definitions are more complex than others doesn't seem like a good enough reason for a comprehensive dictionary not to cover every single possible understanding of a word, because there are plenty of complex definitions that dictionaries do cover.

Therefore in my opinion the fact that certain definitions are missing indicates oversight or technical limitation, and certain comprehensive dictionaries should be revised. If a dictionary won't be revised because of technical limitations that doesn't mean theoretically it shouldn't be improved, it just means it technically can't be.(It's true that I haven't checked through all of the dictionaries out there myself, but I was hoping some people who have prior experience can give some insight as it's no simple feat.)

If that's the case it would not be accurate to say "the meaning is obvious" and "it's in such common use", because besides for the fact that they are not saying the same thing, offering them as an answer without any further explanation implies that my suggestion is never necessary in a dictionary. And if it's so obvious and in such common use, why is it not adequately represented in the above entries?!

There already have been a number of answers saying that "value" can be understood similarly to what I suggested above. Is that a dismissal of my suggestion of the definition of "approach", or is my suggestion as to the defintion of "approach" also true? The reason I ask is because if you are not dismissing my revised definition of "approach", there is not here (and perhaps never) a need to revise the definition of "value".

(Also, if all you can muster is "it's obvious" or "people use it all the time", then please refrain from writing, because not only is that not an answer and that does not help (it's quite obvious to me that what's obvious to one isn't necessarily obvious to another, and no amount of pontificating will change that) it's also pretty obvious to me that it also demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of my question, which takes those considerations into account.)

## closed as off-topic by Kris, Tushar Raj, FumbleFingers, RegDwigнt♦May 11 '15 at 12:30

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

A dictionary can only sum up the meaning of a word in one or two paragraphs. So it can never contain a full description of every context in which a word will be used.

With regards to your question, you have made the assumption that a value, point, position or location never changes. There is no basis for that assumption in the dictionary definitions you quoted. If a value can change, then it can approach another value.

The value of y=sin(x) varies with x. As the variable x approaches π, y approaches zero.

"...because even if a value is a constituent value of a series of values, it still can not be said to itself be changing or approaching."

Maybe so. One could argue that "value" actually refers to the range of outcomes y as an equation is evaluated with new instances of variable x. In other words, as the value of x is incremented in one direction, and the equation solved at each increment, the value of y comes closer to some set quantity...

But what for such hair-splitting? I'd rather intuit the meaning of "values approach" and call it a day.

• I already suggesting one similar or equivalent definition: "a moving point in a range". Seems like I'm not the only one hair-splitting. – Sirudol May 10 '15 at 14:28

It sometimes happens that when you read a dictionary definition of a technical term, it is not realistically possible to understand what you find in the dictionary without knowing something of the context of the technical field in question. This is one of those cases.

It seems to me that what's hanging you up here is that you are imagining a unique value, and therefore you don't see that value changing and getting closer and closer to a particular number.

Here is an example of an oscillating function:

As time increases, the value of the function rises to 5, then decreases again, and goes down to -5, then starts increasing again, and so on. One can say that the function is "banded between two extreme values."

Here's another interesting function. This one doesn't oscillate, though. This one is interesting because as time increases, the value of the function rises and gets closer and closer to 1 -- but it never quite gets there! The horizontal dashed line shows us that.

I hope this helps you understand the paragraph you were having trouble with, and I hope it inspires you to study some math. Math is fun!

Edit:

a value can never be said to be approaching another value

Well, it can, but I wouldn't say it exactly that way. I would say The value of a function approaches a fixed value (or constant).

Would it bother you similarly to see this sentence? "A person approaches (comes close to) another person."

I wondered if part of your problem has to do with the use of the word value? So I checked the definition of value in Collins. I found

the particular quantity that is the result of applying a function or operation for some given argument

Please be patient. Getting a question answered in a way that feels intellectually and viscerally right can take time, and dialogue.

• Thanks for taking the time, but as I indicated in my question with the suggestion of "a moving point on a range" I do have an understanding of the context. If the answer is that dictionaries very often don't do complex definitions justice, or that just the two dictionaries that I used don't (I don't know which answer is truer, but this one makes more sense to me, because I don't see why a dictionary shouldn't do as it purports to do), then I would like to see an answer that demonstrates this, or at least more input from multiple people stating the same thing. I added this request inside. – Sirudol May 11 '15 at 11:37
• @Sirudol could you please direct me to a dictionary that claims to list every possible nuance and meaning of a word, I would like to see it. There must be hundreds of thousands of genuses (or genera) in the world, it would be absurd to demand that a dictionary lists them all. And yet they are words that exist and contain meaning. Dictionaries are sources of general reference, for math(s) related words look in a math (maths BeEng) book. – Mari-Lou A May 11 '15 at 12:44
• @Mari-Lou A I don't mind if a dictionary doesn't include every meaning, and I don't expect it. My point was that if a dictionary is a dictionary it should be the subject of inquiry and at least theoretically, improvement, even if it can't be improved because of technical limitations (and my question shouldn't be dismissed). If that is the reason, so be it. But I've been getting mixed responses. – Sirudol May 11 '15 at 13:43
• @Sirudol Of course printed (and online) dictionaries and references are subject to modification. Words are added all the time and corrections and elucidations made to existing words. Nobody is perfect. – Mitch May 11 '15 at 14:44