Difference between Data and Information

Key difference: Data and information are interrelated. Data usually refers to raw data, or unprocessed data. It is the basic form of data, data that hasn’t been analyzed or processed in any manner. Once the data is analyzed, it is considered as information. Information is "knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance." Information is a sequence of symbols that can be interpreted as a message. It provides knowledge or insight about a certain matter.

Data and information are interrelated. In fact, they are often mistakenly used interchangeably. Data is considered to be raw data. It represents ‘values of qualitative or quantitative variables, belonging to a set of items.’ It may be in the form of numbers, letters, or a set of characters. It is often collected via measurements. In data computing or data processing, data is represented by in a structure, such as tabular data, data tree, a data graph, etc.

Data usually refers to raw data, or unprocessed data. It is the basic form of data, data that hasn’t been analyzed or processed in any manner. Once the data is analyzed, it is considered as information.

Information is "knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance." Information is a sequence of symbols that can be interpreted as a message. It provides knowledge or insight about a certain matter. Information can be recorded as signs, or transmitted as signals.

Basically, information is the message that is being conveyed, whereas data are plain facts. Once the data is processed, organized, structured or presented in a given context, it can become useful. Then data will become information, knowledge.

Data in itself is fairly useless, until it is interpreted or processed to get meaning, to get information. In computing, it can be said that data is the computer's language. It is the output that the computer gives us. Whereas, information is how we interpret or translate the language or data. It is the human representation of data.

Some differences between data and information:

  • Data is used as input for the computer system. Information is the output of data.
  • Data is unprocessed facts figures. Information is processed data.
  • Data doesn’t depend on Information. Information depends on data.
  • Data is not specific. Information is specific.
  • Data is a single unit. A group of data which carries news and meaning is called Information.
  • Data doesn’t carry a meaning. Information must carry a logical meaning.
  • Data is the raw material. Information is the product.

Image Courtesy: gunston.gmu.edu

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