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Throughout a computer environment, data is encoded in a variety of ways. For example, the computer hardware is built on the basis of certain standards, which requires that data contains, for example, parity bit checks. Similarly, the operating system is predicated on certain standards for data and file handling. Furthermore, each computer program handles data in a different manner.
Whenever any one of these variable is changed, data must be converted in some way before it can be used by a different computer, operating system or program. Even different versions of these elements usually involve different data structures. For example, the changing of bits from one format to another, usually for the purpose of application interoperability or of capability of using new features, is merely a data conversion. Data conversions may as simple as the conversion of a text file from one character encoding system to another; or more complex, such as the conversion of office file formats, or the conversion of image and audio file formats.
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