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(computer science)
A description of the data in a source, distinct from the actual data; for example, the currency by which prices are measured in a data source for purchasing goods.


(Note: One unhyphenated word with initial capital; contrast meta data) A word coined by Jack E. Myers to represent current and future lines of products implementing the concepts of his MetaModel, and also to designate his company The Metadata Company that would develop and market those products.

A data and publication search performed when Myers coined the term, early in the summer of 1969, did not discover any use either of the word "metadata" or "meta data". Myers used the term in a 1973 product brochure and it is an Incontestable registered U.S. Trademark.


(1) (The Metadata Company, LLC, Long Beach, CA, Formerly Metadata Information Partners, Metadata is a software firm offering a variety of data management products and services. In 1986, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the company incontestable status for the Metadata trademark. Whenever the term is used generically in this encyclopedia (definition #2 below), it is spelled with a dash (meta-data).

(2) (meta-data) Data that describes other data. For example, data dictionaries and repositories provide information about the data elements in a database (see data dictionary). Digital cameras store meta-data in the image files that include the date the photo was taken along with camera settings (see EXIF). Digital music files contain meta-data such as song title and artist name (see ID3 tag). Meta-data are stored in an HTML page (Web page) to help search engines define the page properly, and most especially, make it rank higher in the results list (see meta tag).

Meta-data has existed for centuries. Card catalogs and handwritten indexes are examples long before the electronic age. See Meta Data Coalition.

The Most Glaring Lack of Meta-Data
The music CD should have been designed with meta-data, such as album name, artist and song titles. With 650 million bytes of storage, a few thousand could have easily been reserved for future use. In the early 1980s, readouts to display this information were expensive, and the future was not considered. The result was a circuitous route of searching by track length for the missing data on the Internet when a CD was played on the computer (see CDDB), as well as conflicts in older stand-alone CD players when meta-data was finally added to the format.

Meta-Data in the Snowden Debacle
After former CIA employee Edward Snowden leaked top-secret American surveillance programs to the press in May 2013, meta-data came front and center. It was revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had undertaken massive phone surveillance, and the controversy was about what was recorded: the actual voice conversations or only the meta-data (times and telephone numbers of the calls). Even when voice content is not recorded, the meta-data can be analyzed to determine who might be in contact with suspected terrorists.

Meta-Data in an Image File
A huge amount of meta-data can be stored in an image file. The IPTC Core section (expanded below) is a meta-data standard from the International Press Telecommunications Council for adding creation data.

A Ton More
An image file can be edited to include a huge amount of meta-data to describe the file. DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine.
References in periodicals archive ?
Descriptive information same as all other meta data can be stored separately and can be contained within the photo image file format itself.
Therefore, it is important to find a suitable digital library that already exists, and mine its bibliographic meta data so it can be used in the tool.
The secondary analysis of the raw data stored in the meta data database is accomplished by downloading the required data files from the file server onto a local computer through the web-based interface into a specific directory.
The Meta Data Coalition says that's not case and says that the two groups have been working together for the last nine months to try and converge their standards.
Other nodes using that file system communicate with the primary server for any meta data changes.
Ascential Software's powerful data profiling, data quality, data transformation, parallel processing, meta data and connectivity solutions enable customers to reduce total cost of ownership and increase return on IT investment.
The suite combines Ascential Software's industry-leading solutions for data profiling, data quality and data transformation on a shared platform of software services for unlimited scalability through parallel processing, management of meta data, any-to-any connectivity and real-time data integration.
This means that businesses can read, manipulate and compare XML meta data using the terminology of their industries, such as "agent" and "policy" in the insurance industry.
CQ Press needs to manage content and meta data from nearly 100 of their previously published books in the system, as well as add new books as they are published.
Secondly, having the chromatographic file linked to the meta data that is being used for quantification will greatly facilitate the time for test data and batch record review.
today announced that the RBC Financial Group (RBC) is the winner of the inaugural Wilshire Award for Meta Data Best Practices.
With DataStage XE delivering the data integration and meta data management functionality for its new data warehouse, Helzberg turned to Brio Software to provide comprehensive business performance data visualization.