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Date: 2019-07-16 Page is: DBtxt001.php list0300-Data-types-1

Definitions for TrueValueMetrics
Data Types

There are many types of data. Some relates to the format of the data, some to the characteristics of the data.

Text versus numbers. Text usually provides qualitative data ... useful, but not easy to manage, and prone to misuse. Text is widely used to tell stories ... and the stories are used to convey information, but this information is hard to put in context, and while interesting, is often not very valuable.

Numbers are boring ... but they may be more precise, and can be manipulated in various mathematical ways to get a better understanding of what is going on. Numbers are easier to validate. But at the same time statistical manipulation of numbers can make the good seem bad and vice versa.

Permanent data and transient data. Data may be characterized as either permanent data and transient data. Permanent data changes slowly, while transient data is changing all the time. For example the name of the town and its location are permanent data, while the current weather is changing all the time and is transient data. Transient data sometimes changes very rapidly ... for example data about economic transactions, while the results or impact changes more slowly.

In accountancy, the operating statement reflects the aggregation of transaction data, and the balance sheet an aggregation of items that change as a result of the transactions. This is reflected in the accounting constructs of balance sheet and operating statement, with the balance sheet representing the more permanent data and the operating statement the more transient data.

This is not, of course, very rigorous, since in a good accounting system both the balance sheet and the operating statement are the result of summing all the individual transactions.

In practical terms this translates into an ability to verify balance sheet reports more easily than one can verify transient operating statement transactions. This is a vital matter, because fraud and corruption can easily take place within the activities of an organization and the funding of these activities, but it can easily be detected if there is meaningful oversight of the results and the balance sheet that puts result on the record.



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