Definition of Data Processing

Data processing is the process of producing meaningful information by collecting all items of data together and performing operations on them to extract information. Data processing can also be described as a series of actions or operations that convert or manipulate data into useful information.

Data processing involves the systematic recording, calculation, selection and combination of data to obtain facts and disseminate facts in relation to events in our everyday life. The processing of data can either be done manually or with the use of electronic machines. Data processing can involve calculating, sorting, editing etc.

 

Data Processing Cycle

Data processing cycle includes the following:

  1. Data Gathering

At this stage, data is gathered through various ways such as asking questions observations, reading books, listening and watching electronic media (radio and television). For example, giving a prospective customer a form to fill before opening a bank account is a form of data gathering.

  1. Data Collection

This involves writing out, sorting, summarizing or classifying data into groups, structures or files. Data is sorted in a way that will make data processing easy

Data collection is a term used to describe a process of preparing and collecting data. For example: as part of a process improvement or similar projection. The purpose of data collection is to obtain information to keep on record, to make decisions about important issues, to pass information on to other. Primarily, data is collected to provide information regarding a specific topic.

  1. Input Stage

All information is entered into the computer through an input terminal (eg. mouse, keyboard, web camera etc). Input devices are devices that accept data in its original format, examples includes keyboard and mouse. Data is entered through input devices. This is the process through which collected data is transformed into a form that computer can understand. It is a very important step in the data processing cycle because correct output result totally depends on the input data.

Three steps are involved when inputting data into the computer:

(i) Collection: This refers to gathering the data from a variety of sources and assembling it.

(ii) Verification: This means checking the data to determine whether it is accurate and complete, and if it should be included for processing.

(iii) Coding: This is translating the data into machine-readable form. Data punched into IBM cards is one example of coding.

 

  1. Processing Stage

During processing or manipulation, one or more of the following tasks may be performed on the input data.

(i) Classifying: Data are organized by characteristics meaningful to the user. For example, a student may be identified by the admission number and class.

(ii) Sorting: In this step, the data may be arranged in a particular sequence to facilitate processing.

(iii) Calculating: Calculations may be required to determine a patient’s account balance or a student’s grade point average.

(iv) Summarizing: This involves reducing a large document into a smaller size containing important points.

At this particular stage, data is converted (processed) into information.

  1. Storage Stage

All computers need to store and retrieve data for processing. Storage can be grouped into two categories primary storage and secondary storage.

(i) Primary Storage: The primary storage, also called main memory or Immediate Access Store (IMAS), resides in the computer. This is necessary since the processing unit can only act on data and instructions that are held in primary storage. Primary storage consists of two types of memory chips. These are Random Access Memory (RAM) and Read Only Memory (ROM) chips.

(ii) Secondary Storage: This is needed to store data and information on a permanent basis for later use. Examples of secondary storage devices are floppy disk, hard disk, zip drives, flash drives etc.

  1. Output Stage

After completing the processing step, output is generated. The result of the data processed is printed out from the printer.  Mostly, the output is stored on the storage media for later use. If the output result is accurate, the data processing cycle is completed.

Output activities include the following;

(i) Retrieving: involves pulling information from storage device for use by the decision-maker.

(ii) Converting: means translating information from the computer form used to store it, to a form understandable by the user (such as, a CRT display or printed report).

(iii) Storing: involves transferring the data onto a storage medium, such as a disk or tape file for future use.

(iv) Communication: takes place when the relevant accurate information is in the right place at the right time.

 

EVALUATION

  1. What is data processing?
  2. List and explain the stages involved in data processing.
  3. What is the condition that makes data processing complete?

 

See also

Generations of Computers

ELECTRONIC COUNTING DEVICES AND MODERN COMPUTER

ELECTRO-MECHANICAL COUNTING DEVICES

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF COMPUTERS

MECHANICAL COUNTING AND CALCULATING DEVICES

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