to a first approximation

1. When one is doing certain numerical computations, an

approximate solution may be computed by any of several

heuristic methods, then refined to a final value. By using

the starting point of a first approximation of the answer, one

can write an algorithm that converges more quickly to the

correct result.

2. In jargon, a preface to any comment that indicates that the

comment is only approximately true. The remark "To a first

approximation, I feel good" might indicate that deeper

questioning would reveal that not all is perfect (e.g. a

nagging cough still remains after an illness).

[{Jargon File}]