degree of freedom  
—n  
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 
3.  chem See also phase rule one of a number of intensive properties that can be independently varied without changing the number of phases in a system 
4.  statistics one of the independent unrestricted random variables constituting a statistic 
degree of freedom

degree of freedom
in mathematics, any of the number of independent quantities necessary to express the values of all the variable properties of a system. A system composed of a point moving without constraints in space, for example, has three degrees of freedom because three coordinates are needed to determine the position of the point
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