Data processing is any process that converts data into information. The processing is usually assumed to be automated and running on an a personal computer or other information system.
In this context data is defined as a collection of numbers or characters that represent a measurement from the real world. The measured information has previously been converted to data as discussed below. (evidence). Information is defined as a meaningful answer to a query.
More generally, the term data processing can apply to any process that converts data from one format to another, although data conversion would be the more logical and correct term. From this perspective, data processing becomes the process of converting information into data and also the converting of data back into information. The distinction is that conversion doesn't require a question (query) to be answered. For Example, information in the form of an string of characters forming a sentence in English is converted or encoded at a keyboard into ASCII code after which it may be more easily processed by a computer and finally converted or decoded to be displayed as characters on the computer display.
Practically all naturally occurring processes can be viewed in this context as examples of data processing systems where "real world" information in the form of pressure, light, etc. are converted by human observers into electrical signals in the nervous system as the senses we recognise as touch, sound, and vision. Even the interaction of non-living systems may be viewed in this way as rudimentary information processing systems.
See also:Data entry clerk