what is data and what is information?

Expert Answers
mvcdc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Data are values that are either quantitative or qualitative. They are merely values or descriptive text without structure and context, and subject to interpretation. Data are raw, and unorganized, and often times, may appear as a merely random collection of text and values. For instance, a data can be a set of scores from a test of students written in no particular order. Without knowledge that those are actually scores, they might appear as random numbers to an outsider.

Information, on the other hand, can be interpreted properly. Information is what you would get after processing, and organizing your data. Information also has to be interpreted in a given context, and is not random at all. For instance, the test scores could be presented in a tabular form along with the class ID of each student and then the average and standard deviation can be calculated. The average represents the mean score, while the SD the spread of the student's score. This gives us, from the raw data (scores) the information about the performance of the class.

In another sense, we can say that the data is what is given (or probably what was recorded from the event), and information is what we get from the data, after it has been analyzed, processed, organized, and interpreted.

gelsaied | Student

Many times, we hear the terms data and information used iterchangebly. Making the distinction is extremely useful, especially when it comes to computer science.

Data are basic values or facts. Data can be unstructured and lack context.

Information is data that has been organized/processed in a way that is useful in solving problems.

sid-sarfraz | Student

During a lecture when you jot down important points on a piece of paper in a raw form i.e., not properly, is data. When you go home and use that data to make notes by connecting the data collected that will help you in exams, is information.

Hence data is the unprocessed collection of raw facts and figures where as information is the processed form of data that can be further used to create knowledge. Simply,

Data =  Raw facts + figures

Information = Data + Relationships between facts and figures

Hope it helps.