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DATA IN COMPUTATION SCIENCE A simple insight on data in computation science

The factor that makes Data and Information different from each other 

Data is more general than Information. Information is just a subset of data. Data is anything a human can understand. It can be facts, audio, images, videos, texts, numbers, characters, etc. It does not necessarily have to have a purpose or meaning. It can be unstructured. On the other hand, Information has a purpose or meaning. It is structured data. 

For example, The marks of a student are just data but not Information because it has held no meaning in itself, except that it is just a naïve judgment of the student's performance. However, the average of marks obtained by students in a class conveys Information about the class's overall performance.


An overview of data in the computing world

Data generally refers to audio, video, images, texts, etc. It can be characters, alphabets, facts, numbers, and anything that a human or a machine can understand.

A computer cannot understand the data as mentioned above. So, it converts those data into "Machine-readable Data", that is, bits. Bits and bytes are known as the "Digital Data". A bit is a "0" or "1" (mathematically) and "low voltage" or "high voltage" (physically), respectively. So, every "Human-readable Data" can be converted into bits (machine-readable data). 

Hence, in general, computer data is Information stored or processed by a computer, which it can understand.



Storage of data 

Data Storage- A qualitative apprehension: In computers, data are stored in storage devices like hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), external hard drives, SD cards, etc. Anything classified to be data (like audio, video, images, texts, numbers, etc.) is stored in the configuration of a string of binary digits (0 or 1). These strings of binary numbers represented uniquely make up different data.

Now generally, the question arises of how these strings of bits are stored physically?

Earlier, magnetic storage devices were used in which the magnetization mechanism exhibited a bit with polarity in a specific area of a ferromagnetic film. Hence, the bits were stored with the help of magnetic fields. 

There are many ways to store bits in the recent semiconductor storage devices. One of them is that two values of a bit are represented by two levels of electric charge stored in a capacitor. Another method can be characterized by the existence or non-existence of a conducting path occurring at a particular circuit point. When a bit is encoded in optical discs, it is primarily due to the presence or absence of a microscopic pit that exists on a reflective surface. In one-dimensional bar codes, bits are often encoded as the thickness of alternating black and white lines. Hence, using these different representations of bits in other modern storage devices, engineers can easily store the bits by exploiting the properties of those physical representations (as done in magnetic storage devices where used magnetic fields are keet).

All data in computers are stored as binary numbers. Storing data is crucial in computation, and a change in the single bit in a string of bits can corrupt the complete file. 

Data Storage- A quantitative apprehension: No device can store an infinite amount of data. Therefore, every storage device has its limit physically. To describe the limit, we introduce specific units (to represent the data size). The units are bytes, kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), terabytes (TB), petabytes (PB), exabytes (EB), zettabyte (ZB), and yottabyte (YB).


Processed data 

In general, data processing in computers transforms the human-readable input data to machine-readable data, then the manipulation of the data for performing defined operations and, at last, transforming the machine-readable data back to human-readable data as output.

Now generally, the question arises of how exactly the data processing is performed physically?

Data processing is done with the help of the hardware of the computer. It forms a highly complex process involving a detailed study of each hardware part. There are many parts like the mouse, keyboard, monitor, and CPU (which consists of different circuits made of fundamental elements like transistors that make various gates. 

It also makes different types of flip flops used in making more complicated circuits units), wires, etc. 

Data processing can be divided into three steps:

  • INPUT:

For input, we use a mouse and a keyboard. The switch we press sends an electric signal to the CPU. Then, depending upon what we encourage, a unique string of bits is generated (different complex circuits perform this operation) to represent the input data. The process is the same for any data like audio, video, images, texts, etc. The representation becomes complicated for complex data.


Now the data or the string of bits flow through the circuit via different transistors, gates, flip flops, etc., to perform the desired operation.


At last, the output is stored in memory (in the form of bits) or displayed (after transforming the strings of bits into human-readable data with different circuits). But, again, it depends on what the user wants.



Computers constitute a vital part of our lives. To be specific, data plays a central role in the operations of computers. Manipulating Information is the main operation that computers do. Hence, understanding the importance of data in the modern world is one of the cardinal jobs.




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