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I have some code containing "derivations" which are values that update automatically when any of the values it uses are updated. They are derived from these sub-values, but I don't know what to call them.

I could have sworn there was a math term for it, but I can't seem to find it.

As an example of the term, I've tried searching "derivee" and "derivation source," and checked the thesaurus for "derive."

Is there a single word for the values from which another value is derived?

Also, these aren't arguments for a function, but more like a column in a spreadsheet which some other column is dependent on.

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    If the values are automatically updated, I'd say they're live (feasibly, hot). Programmers have a related concept called volatile variables (which can be modified by processes other than the main execution thread of a program). – FumbleFingers Jun 11 at 14:59
  • I would have thought they were "dependent variables" (which change based on one or more independent variables) but I'm not certain enough of math terminology to make that an answer. – TaliesinMerlin Jun 11 at 15:06
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    Your term source works well here. The derived values were based on (those of) the source. – Lawrence Jun 11 at 15:07
  • Have you tried putting this question on mathematics? – Tuffy Jun 11 at 15:30
  • I had definitely thought source multiple times, but it's rather ambiguous. Another word that seems related (and under the umbrella of source) is a "clue," though that doesn't work in the math world at all. Still, the notion that ideas are the byproduct of clues, is similar to derivations are the byproduct of... – Seph Reed Jun 11 at 15:33
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I'm pretty sure I've heard the simple term 'precursor' used in a mathematical sense.

precursor n.

  1. [A person, situation etc – licensed by the example] that precedes and indicates, suggests, or announces someone or something to come

[AHD]

The 'source giving rise to a related entity' implication is certainly present in the chemical usage:

precursor 3. (Chemistry)

a chemical substance that gives rise to another ... substance

[Collins]

and in the biology usage:

precursor 4

a cell or tissue that gives rise to a variant ... form.

[RHK Webster's]

  • "derivations are the byproduct of precursors" and "derive the precursors into a derivation" both seem to function pretty well as statements. – Seph Reed Jun 11 at 17:25
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How about independent variable?

Independent variables are the variables that the experimenter changes to test their dependent variable. A change in the independent variable directly causes a change in the dependent variable

https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-independent-variable-605238

  • While this would be nice for a more front-of-the-function perspective, it doesn't work as well for back-of-the-function thinking. From the back side, the function can't be reached, and the variables aren't manipulable, they're just part of the cause. – Seph Reed Jun 11 at 17:23

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