What is data?
Data is everything and can be found everywhere. But what is it exactly? In order to use it the right way, we have to understand it. There are many different ways in which we can define data. To begin with, we have to put data in four categories. And, with each of these four types of data, we can do different things.
The first type is nominal data. This type of data is more familiar under the name of “label.” We use this type of data to label and name specific things, like variables, for example. Now, the things that we measure with this kind of data typically don’t have a particular measurement. We can’t add a numerical value to them. Names, nationalities, gender, words, and symbols are purely a fraction of nominal data.
With ordinal data, we have scales. It is a categorical data that has an order to it. What’s important about this type of data is the order of values. But, there we can’t measure the differences (distances) between those values. With ordinal data, we measure things that, on a physical level, can’t be calculated. For example, we measure happiness or sadness on a scale from 1-10.
Interval data has both an order and the distance between two or more different values. That means that on a set scale, we have the same amount of space between ratings. Between the numbers 40 and 50, the distance is 10, and between 70 and 80, the difference is also 10. Measuring temperature is one example of this. But this type has no “true zero” when measuring. We can say that the temperature is 0 degrees Celsius, but we can’t state that there is an absence of temperature when it hits 0.
The type of data that does have a “true zero” is ratio data. These are the best for accurate measurement. They give us an order, a value, and they have a “true zero.” This type is ideal for providing statistics and similar analyses. With this data category, we can give statistical information about things like height, weight, and much more.
We combine all these kinds of data to create a much more complex matrix. Everything about data is interchangeable with one another. It is a complicated decision process many modern computer algorithms are based on. We have to structure data like this because it becomes a problem if it’s not. Computer programs are a collection of these types of data.
And, if we understand how the basics of data are formed, we can manually generate better and faster devices and software. Data and data analysis is the ultimate foundation for a much more technology-advanced society. It is a way in which we can take existing information to represent it in a code or a system of algorithms to make it work better and process faster.