For data in computer science, see Data (computing). For other uses, see Data (disambiguation).
Data (/ˈdeɪtə/ day-tə, /ˈdætə/ da-tə, or /ˈdɑːtə/ dah-tə) are values of qualitative or quantitative variables, belonging to a set of items. Data in computing (or data processing) are represented in a structure, often tabular (represented by rows and columns), a tree (a set of nodes with parent-children relationship) or a graph structure (a set of interconnected nodes). Data are typically the results of measurements and can be visualised using graphs or images. Data as an abstract concept can be viewed as the lowest level of abstraction from which information and then knowledge are derived. Raw data, i.e., unprocessed data, refers to a collection of numbers, characters and is a relative term; data processing commonly occurs by stages, and the "processed data" from one stage may be considered the "raw data" of the next. Field data refers to raw data collected in an uncontrolled in situ environment. Experimental data refers to data generated within the context of a scientific investigation by observation and recording.
The word data is the plural of datum, neuter past participle of the Latin dare, "to give", hence "something given". In discussions of problems in geometry, mathematics, engineering, and so on, the terms givens and data are used interchangeably. Such usage is the origin of data as a concept in computer science or data processing: data are numbers, words, images, etc., accepted as they stand.
Though data is also increasingly used in humanities (particularly in the growing digital humanities), it has been suggested that the highly interpretive nature of humanities might be at odds with the ethos of data as "given". Peter Checkland introduced the term capta (from the Latin capere, “to take”) to distinguish between an immense number of possible data and a sub-set of them, to which attention is oriented.[1] Johanna Drucker has argued that since the humanities affirm knowledge production as “situated, partial, and constitutive,” using data may introduce assumptions that are counterproductive, for example that phenomena are discreet or are observer-independent.[2] The term capta, which emphasizes the act of observation as constitutive, is offered as an alternative todata for visual representations in the humanities.

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