In a nutshell, data can be solitary or plural. Although the plural form is preferable in some formal and technical settings, the single form is becoming increasingly frequent and is entirely mainstream. In most cases, "these data" or "this data," "data are" or "data is," and so on are acceptable. There are exceptions, but they are rare.
The plural of datum is data. Data was once (and still is at the odd scientific institution) considered as plural. However, it is now used as a singular noun.
Data are sets of facts or observations that can be used to make conclusions or draw inferences. The word comes from Latin datus meaning given or made available and thus meaning something provided for use or enjoyment. Since computers store information in binary format, they also need a way to communicate with each other. Thus, the word data has been adopted to describe the information that connects these computers together.
In mathematics, physics, and engineering, data is any information that is not part of the structure of an object. For example, scientists collect data about the properties of stars by observing their effects on nearby objects. Data is also information that cannot be interpreted from viewing a single object. For example, data describing the composition of planets is collected by analyzing the spectra of starlight that passes through them. Finally, data is information that cannot be stored; this form of data is called ephemeral data.
In statistics, data are the facts or observations upon which statistical analysis is based. Statistical data includes numerical values representing quantities such as heights or ages of people, as well as categorical values representing groups such as men or women.
Data is the plural of datum, which is a Latin word that means "something provided." Today, data is used in English as both a plural noun meaning "facts or bits of information" (these data are discussed in greater detail elsewhere) and a single mass noun meaning "knowledge" (not much data on flood...).
Data is information that has been preserved for future reference or use. Data can be raw facts obtained by observation or experiment, or it can also include conclusions reached by analysis of these facts. Data can be recorded directly into a computer system (e.g., through a keyboard), or it can be transferred from an original source (e.g., a book) to the computer system (by being scanned into its memory). Data is needed by anyone who wants to know something about reality; scientists collect data, model systems with computers, and make predictions about how they think things will act.
Data is commonly thought of as facts or figures that are used by researchers to support their claims or arguments, but this is not what the Latin word datum means. Data are useful because they help us understand what is going on in our world and allow us to make predictions about future events. Data are also valuable because they can help solve problems - once we have collected some, we can try to use them to build models that can be used later when we want to understand more about what causes certain things to happen or see what effects changing one variable might have on other things.
Data is information that has been transformed into a form that is efficient for transfer or processing in computers. Data, as it relates to today's computers and transmission media, is information that has been translated into binary digital form. It is allowed to use data as either a solitary or plural subject.
Data can be categorized as numerical or textual. Numerical data includes anything that can be counted including voice signals, stock prices, currency amounts, and product sales. Textual data consists of characters, words, and sentences. Examples of textual data include books, articles, and letters. These categories are not strict, however. Some data cannot be counted such as images and sound recordings. Nor are they mutually exclusive. Books contain numbers for example using page counts or ISBNs.
Data is relevant because computers operate on data. They process it, store it, transmit it, and interact with their users based on data. Data is also important because we need good ways to represent it so that it can be stored, transmitted, and analyzed. We will discuss these issues in more detail below.
What does all this have to do with science? In science, data is any information that can be used to describe, explain, or predict something about the world or reality. Scientists collect data by performing experiments and observing things around them. Data is then interpreted using theories and models to explain what is happening and make predictions about the future.
WhatIs.com's definition Data is information that has been transformed into a form that is efficient for transfer or processing in computers.
Data includes any collection of words, numbers, images, or other materials used to convey information or your opinion about someone or something. Data is also material that contains computer instructions for a device such as a computer or robot. These instructions can be read by a computer program called an interpreter that is part of most computers. The interpreter takes the instructions and uses them to perform specific tasks. Data is often stored on devices called disks because they have a flat surface where data can be recorded by applying a magnetic field across the surface.
Data is needed for computers to operate properly. Without data, there would be no way for a computer to function since all it can do is follow instructions given to it by another device (i.e., a human being). Therefore, data is essential for computers to communicate with one another and with their users.
Data is defined as a set of facts or items of information. In computing, this fact or item of information may be represented in many different ways depending on how it is intended to be processed or transmitted.