Data are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of values of qualitative or quantitative variables about one or more persons or objects, while a datum is a single value of a single variable. Although the terms "data" and "information" are often used interchangeably, these terms have distinct meanings. In some popular publications, data are sometimes said to be transformed into information when they are viewed in context or in post-analysis. However, in academic treatments of the subject data are simply units of information. Data are used in scientific research, businesses management, finance, governance, and in virtually every other form of human organizational activity. In general, data are atoms of decision making: they are the smallest units of factual information that can be used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation. Data can range from abstract ideas to concrete measurements, even statistics.

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