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degrees of freedom

degrees of freedom in Science
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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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degrees of freedom in Technology

robotics
The number of independent parameters required to specify the position and orientation of an object. Often used to classify robot arms. For example, an arm with six degrees of freedom could reach any position close enough and could orient it's end effector (grip or tool etc.) at any angle about the three perpendicular axes.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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