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What is the definition of "measurable definition?" What does that mean? I have interns who are victims of verbose, academic language, and they frequently use terms that I don't think they even understand.

In an online pdf titled "A Measurable Definition of Resiliency Using 'Mission Risk' as a Metric" I read this in the abstract, "Part of the problem...lacks a clear definition that supports measurable metrics that would allow two like systems to be compared against each other."

It seems there is no such thing as a "measurable definition," rather there is a phenomenon that can be defined and measured.

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    The word measureable in this context indicates a quantified or quantifiable metric of some kind but that metric should be specified to operationalize the definition. In the absence of that metric, the phrase is specious jargon.
    – DJohnson
    Mar 27 '18 at 18:09
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    I think @DJohnson nails it with the word "quantifiable" . The issue is, as you(OP) point out than very frequently when the issue is raised, the nature of what is to be measured does not easily make itself directly quantifiable. Prior to the last few financial bubbles "beta" was chosen as a stand in for 'risk' .. 'beta' was the degree of fluctuation of prices ... however it ended up being a terrible measure of worst case scenarios and 'solvency'. A better heuristic like "premium over replacement cost" or "% above a 5 year moving average' would have been better 'measurable definitions'
    – Tom22
    Mar 28 '18 at 1:50
  • @tom22 All good points especially your observation that everything is not measurable since there are those that believe otherwise. I'm just not sure the OP is talking about financial risk or is referring to something more general. Mission risk implies a large set of risk metrics, e.g., the metrics used wrt the Challenger space shuttle disaster. In that case the risk of failure of the 'O-rings' when the outdoor temperature dropped below a threshold was known and had been quantified but was ignored since the other metrics were saying 'go.'
    – DJohnson
    Mar 28 '18 at 12:44
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It is reasonable to infer that the person who wrote that was discussing "a clear definition that supports measurable metrics that would allow two like systems to be compared against each other", and decided that the title "A Measurable Definition of Resiliency Using 'Mission Risk' as a Metric" was already a wordy enough title without wording it as "A Definition That Supports Measurable Metrics That Would Allow Two Like Systems To Be Compared Against Each Other of Resiliency Using 'Mission Risk' as a Metric". It is within the realm of normal English usage to precede a noun with an adjective that does not, strictly speaking, refer to that noun, but to things connected to it, especially in a context such as a title where brevity is a concern, and there are further opportunities, such as an abstract, to use more precise language. See such terms as "metonymy".

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Acknowledging your assessment of self-inflating intern verbosity--of which your ignoring of same is part and parcel to transforming their minds into physician minds--the .pdf offering to which you refer seems exemplary of a reasoning fallacy of stating a premise so as to anticipate an outcome--similar in everyday parlance to begging the question. If a "definition" is what it is by virtue solely of being so defined, and since a measure (as defined) and a metric (as defined) are synonymous, then your conclusion, as by implication, is indeed not nonsensical but instead is precisely perceptive. A definition cannot be measured that is, of itself, already measured, and innately so.

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It is indeed true that a definition itself cannot be measurable (or fail to be measurable, either). What those who use the phrase have in mind would probably be better expressed by 'definition in terms of something measurable'.

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In an online pdf titled "A Measurable Definition of Resiliency Using 'Mission Risk' as a Metric" I read this in the abstract, "Part of the problem...lacks a clear definition that supports measurable metrics that would allow two like systems to be compared against each other."

Using 'Mission Risk' as a Metric is the problem, "Mission Risk" is not a metric. A metric is a objective measure of something that can be repeated and determined and remains the same to all those who use it as a means of measure/a metric.

OED Metric. 4. A system or standard of measurement; a criterion or set of criteria stated in quantifiable terms.

Thus a metre or a foot or a decibel, or litre is the same anywhere on earth and regardless of who does the measuring.

'Mission Risk' is not a metric. To me, the Mission Risk might be "20", but to you, it might be 40. As time passes, it might be that the "Mission Risk" was actually "Zero" or "100".

The lesson is that you cannot use things "as a metric" if they are not constant and unable to be objectively measured.

This is why we do not use rubber bands to measure distances.

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  • A standard or system of measurement. Your system gives 20, mine gives 40. May 17 '20 at 16:52

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