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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 ?
In the following, we will be interested in the semantic data profiling process details (presented in Figure 3) and in particular to the meta-information.
In traditional meta-information systems, classifying and indexing information resources is exclusively performed by either authors who create the resources or librarians trained to strictly follow conventional classification rules (e.g., the Dewey Decimal Classification system).
According to the above visualization process, the key techniques of visual discussion need to be researched and realized, such as argument meta-information segmentation, argument keywords clustering and visualization, and scenario elements of sudden disasters matching and filtering.
Other meta-information are less adept for this role, for example, general.description or classification.description give informal and human level semantic specification (based on human natural language) and they are not suitable for direct elaboration by software procedures.
Stage 2: Electronic records--With the creation of electronic records, the meta-information and the primary information will be electronically stored and managed.
Such an unfocused procedure was suspected to take too much time and respondent concentration, possibly at the cost of the meta-information that we could obtain for a test of the specific risk hypotheses.
Important categories of meta-information include the following:
At the same time, It should ensure the electronic reporting of the data and required meta-information to the european pollutant release and transfer register, As specified in regulation (ec) no.
It defines meta-information necessary to use collectors.
In their paper "Peer-to-Peer: From File Sharing to Meta-information Pooling", Eric Dagiral and Florian Dauphin study usages in the case of exchange of music files.
The release replaces the beta version of the application, and adds search over the full text of PDFs and meta-information stored within music, image and video files.
She detailed several Microsoft research products, including MIDAS (Meta-Information Delivery and Annotation Services), which generates a "table of contents" on a Web site's home page.