Data vs. Information

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Data and Information is that the Data is a facts represented for handling and Information is a that which informs; the answer to a question of some kind; that from which data and knowledge can be derived.

  • Data

    Data ( DAY-tə, DAT-ə, DAH-tə) is a set of values of subjects with respect to qualitative or quantitative variables.

    Data and information are often used interchangeably; however data becomes information when it is viewed in context or in post-analysis .

    While the concept of data is commonly associated with scientific research, data is collected by a huge range of organizations and institutions, including businesses (e.g., sales data, revenue, profits, stock price), governments (e.g., crime rates, unemployment rates, literacy rates) and non-governmental organizations (e.g., censuses of the number of homeless people by non-profit organizations).

    Data is measured, collected and reported, and analyzed, whereupon it can be visualized using graphs, images or other analysis tools. Data as a general concept refers to the fact that some existing information or knowledge is represented or coded in some form suitable for better usage or processing. Raw data (“unprocessed data”) is a collection of numbers or characters before it has been “cleaned” and corrected by researchers. Raw data needs to be corrected to remove outliers or obvious instrument or data entry errors (e.g., a thermometer reading from an outdoor Arctic location recording a tropical temperature). Data processing commonly occurs by stages, and the “processed data” from one stage may be considered the “raw data” of the next stage. Field data is raw data that is collected in an uncontrolled “in situ” environment. Experimental data is data that is generated within the context of a scientific investigation by observation and recording. Data has been described as the new oil of the digital economy.

  • Information

    Information is any entity or form that provides the answer to a question of some kind or resolves uncertainty. It is thus related to data and knowledge, as data represents values attributed to parameters, and knowledge signifies understanding of real things or abstract concepts. As it regards data, the information’s existence is not necessarily coupled to an observer (it exists beyond an event horizon, for example), while in the case of knowledge, the information requires a cognitive observer.

    Information is conveyed either as the content of a message or through direct or indirect observation. That which is perceived can be construed as a message in its own right, and in that sense, information is always conveyed as the content of a message.

    Information can be encoded into various forms for transmission and interpretation (for example, information may be encoded into a sequence of signs, or transmitted via a signal). It can also be encrypted for safe storage and communication.

    Information reduces uncertainty. The uncertainty of an event is measured by its probability of occurrence and is inversely proportional to that. The more uncertain an event, the more information is required to resolve uncertainty of that event. The bit is a typical unit of information, but other units such as the nat may be used. For example, the information encoded in one “fair” coin flip is log2(2/1) = 1 bit, and in two fair coin flips is

    log2(4/1) = 2 bits.

    The concept that information is the message has different meanings in different contexts. Thus the concept of information becomes closely related to notions of constraint, communication, control, data, form, education, knowledge, meaning, understanding, mental stimuli, pattern, perception, representation, and entropy.

  • Data (noun)

    plural of datum

  • Data (noun)

    Information, especially in a scientific or computational context, or with the implication that it is organized.

    “The raw information was processed and placed into a database so the data could be accessed more quickly.”

  • Data (noun)

    Recorded observations that are usually presented in a structured format.

  • Data (noun)

    A representation of facts or ideas in a formalized manner capable of being communicated or manipulated by some process.

  • Data (noun)

    Digital information such as images or web pages transmitted using the cellular telephone network rather than wifi.

    “run out of data”

  • Information (noun)

    Things that are or can be known about a given topic; communicable knowledge of something. from 14th c.

    “I need some more information about this issue.”

  • Information (noun)

    The act of informing or imparting knowledge; notification. from 14th c.

    “For your information, I did this because I wanted to.”

  • Information (noun)

    A statement of criminal activity brought before a judge or magistrate; in the UK, used to inform a magistrate of an offence and request a warrant; in the US, an accusation brought before a judge without a grand jury indictment. from 15th c.

  • Information (noun)

    The act of informing against someone, passing on incriminating knowledge; accusation. 14th-17th c.

  • Information (noun)

    The systematic imparting of knowledge; education, training. from 14th c.

  • Information (noun)

    The creation of form; the imparting of a given quality or characteristic; forming, animation. from 17th c.

  • Information (noun)

    […] the meaning that a human assigns to data by means of the known conventions used in its representation.

  • Information (noun)

    Divine inspiration. from 15th c.

  • Information (noun)

    A service provided by telephone which provides listed telephone numbers of a subscriber. from 20th c.

  • Information (noun)

    Any unambiguous abstract data, the smallest possible unit being the id=datum. from 20th c.

  • Information (noun)

    As contrasted with data, information is processed to extract relevant data. from late 20th c.

  • Information (noun)

    Any ordered sequence of symbols (or signals) (that could contain a message). from late 20th c.


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