What is Data?

Data, in the context of databases, refers to all the single items that are stored in a database, either individually or as a set. Data in a database is primarily stored in database tables, which are organized into columns that dictate the data types stored therein. So, if the “Customers” table has a column titled “Telephone Number,” whose data type is defined as “Number,” then only numerals can be stored in that column.

Data, even in a database, is rarely useful in its raw form. For example, in a banking application, data is the whole collection of bank account numbers; bank customers’ names, addresses, and ages; bank transactions and so on. Being presented with this mass of numbers will simply overwhelm the average human — an individual simply cannot process it all. However, when data is arranged relationally, it then becomes information, which is much more useful to users. For example, if the mass of numbers stored in the banking database above is used to extract the names and addresses of the top 100 clients by size of deposit, then the data has been used to provide useful information.

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