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).
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