Data, information, and knowledge are becoming increasingly common terms in the literature of the software industry. This terminology originated some time ago in the disciplines of cognitive science and artificial intelligence to reference three closely related but distinct concepts. Traditionally, mainstream software engineering has lumped all three concepts together as data and has only recently begun to distinguish between them. Unfortunately, the popular desire to distinguish between data, information, and knowledge within the mainstream has blurred the individual meanings of the words to the point where there is no longer a clear-cut distinction between them for most people. This problem is compounded by the fact that the abstract nature of the associated concepts provides wide latitude for their application.

The goal of this paper is to make these abstract concepts more concrete by providing examples of their usage taken directly from the design and implementation of the Shipboard Integration of Logistics Systems (SILS), an ONR project sponsored by Dr. Phillip Abraham. This paper does not claim or intend to provide definitive definitions of these terms; rather it seeks to provide a cognitive framework for thinking about these concepts from which observations and conclusions can be made about the differences and relationships between the individual concepts.


Software Engineering



URL: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cadrc/76