Here’s what my computer dictionary says about PARAMETER:
parameter |pəˈramitər|noun technical
• A numerical or other measurable factor forming one of a set that defines a system or sets the conditions of its operation: the transmission will not let you downshift unless your speed is within the lower gear’s parameters. [I have no idea what this means. JB]
• Mathematics—a quantity whose value is selected for the particular circumstances and in relation to which other variable quantities may be expressed. [I have no idea what this means, either. JB]
• Statistics—a numerical characteristic of a population, as distinct from a statistic of a sample. [Ditto. JB]
It then says that the word is often used to mean “limit” or “boundary.” Now even though I don’t understand the mathematical or statistical meanings (I got freaked out by numbers when I was in first grade), it annoys me to see people describe the “parameters of a problem.” I’m guessing this happens because of the similarity to the word “perimeter.” Why not just say the “scope, size or limitations” of the problem? I know why not: because people think “parameter” makes them sound important. It’s jargon.