degree of freedom

  1. Statistics. any of the statistically independent values of a sample that are used to determine a property of the sample, as the mean or variance.

  2. Physical Chemistry. any of the independent variables required to specify the energy of a molecule or atom.

Origin of degree of freedom

First recorded in 1900–05

Words Nearby degree of freedom Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

British Dictionary definitions for degree of freedom

degree of freedom

  1. physics one of the minimum number of parameters necessary to describe a state or property of a system

  2. one of the independent components of motion (translation, vibration, and rotation) of an atom or molecule

  1. chem one of a number of intensive properties that can be independently varied without changing the number of phases in a system: See also phase rule

  2. statistics one of the independent unrestricted random variables constituting a statistic

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for degree of freedom

degree of freedom

  1. Any of the independent thermodynamic variables, such as pressure, temperature, or composition, required to specify a system with a given number of phases and components.

  2. Any of the independent terms used to characterize the way a physical system can store energy. For example, a molecule consisting of two atoms can be thought of as having three degrees of freedom: one for its linear motion (as the whole molecule moves through space), one for its angular motion (as it rotates around its center of gravity) and one for its internal vibrational energy (as the atoms pull and push against each other within their chemical bond).

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.