The fundamental data structure in a data processing system. Any unit of data defined for processing is a data element; for example, ACCOUNT NUMBER, NAME, ADDRESS and CITY. A data element is defined by size (in characters) and type (alphanumeric, numeric only, true/false, date, etc.). A specific set of values or range of values may also be part of the definition.Technically, a data element is a logical definition of data, whereas a field is the physical unit of storage in a record. For example, the data element ACCOUNT NUMBER, which exists only once, is stored in the ACCOUNT NUMBER field in each customer record and in the ACCOUNT NUMBER field in each order record. See field.
(metadata) An atomic unit of data that has:
- An identification such as a data element name.
- A clear data element definition.
- One or more representation terms.
- Optional enumerated values.
- A list of synonyms to data elements in other metadata registries.