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A person who is interested in a degree in data science, computer science, data analytics, information science or a related field may want to know, “What is a data stream?” In technology and computer science, data streams refer to a sequence of packets of data sent from one computer to another. Knowing about this concept could help a person decide which college courses to take or which jobs to apply for in computer and information systems after they graduate with a relevant degree.

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Digital Signals for Transmitting Content

In the simplest sense, a data stream is a sequence of digitally encoded packets of data. The packets transmit and receive information. It is a set of information extracted from the provider. Data scientists use the streams in big data. Artificial intelligence also uses streams of data. Consumers may use streams of data for entertainment after the streams are processed by a receiving device. Data streams are typically produced and distributed by data technology companies.

Features of the Data Packets

Data packets have specific features or attributes. Those include a data point identification, time stamp, subject identification, raw data, and processed data. A stream may have packets of different data types. Each packet can have different features or attributes. Data streams are typically integrated with a specific system set up for reception. Those systems include demand-side platforms, content management systems, consumer data platforms, data management platforms, and customer relationship management systems.

How Data Streams Are Used

There are many uses of data streams. Raw data is often fed into a fraud detection system or a scoring system. For example, when a person makes a purchase with their credit card online, the raw data is sent to a fraud detection system. If that purchase is unusual based on the past history of purchases, it may trigger a declined transaction and activation of the card holder’s fraud alert system. Another use of data streams is for artificial intelligence. The system uses the data in order to build algorithms. Data streams can also be used for business intelligence, predictive research, targeting, and customer relationship management system enrichment.

Who Controls a Data Stream and Its Use

Many types of information technology professionals handle data streams and control their content and their use explains Techopedia. Network administrators monitor the flow of data into and out of a network. They analyze the network’s topology. Data analysts and analytics professionals use data streams in order to build databases and program functions. People who program artificial intelligence systems use data streams in order to create the base of knowledge that the computer will use for making predictions. Website administrators use them in order to determine their website’s performance and user experience. Technology journalists use data streams to provide consumers with information about services.

Understanding what data streams are helps people who are interested in a career in computer and information systems make sense of what they are learning. Even people who are not in a computer science major or tech career may be interested in the concept because so many people use devices to stream data, such as watching shows over the internet. Familiarity with the answer to, “What is a data stream?” helps individuals know more about today’s common technology.


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