Lawyers put great stock in precision. In recognition of that, this column defines a raft of terms that apply to numbers. Not a raft, actually, but exactly 16 concepts and words.
Working from the broadest term down, let’s start with data (the plural of datum), used for individual facts or pieces of information. Information theory defines a binary digit (bit) as either 1 or 0, and strings of bits can encode or describe any data. A tiny portion of the data universe consists of numbers, “mathematical units, as in a numerical series, having precise relations with other such units.” Six patents convey an even number, and 3.14, known as pi, also is a number.