3.1 Data and Computers

Without data, computers would be useless. Every task a computer undertakes deals with managing data in some way. Therefore, our need to represent and organize data in appropriate ways is paramount.

Let’s start by distinguishing the terms data and information. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, making the distinction is sometimes useful, especially in computing. Data is basic values or facts, whereas information is data that has been organized and/or processed in a way that is useful in solving some kind of problem. Data can be unstructured and lack context. Information helps us answer questions (it “informs”). This distinction, of course, is relative to the needs of the user, but it captures the essence ...

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