Welcome to the course website for Informatics 1: Data & Analysis (Inf1-DA).

This is a taught course at the University of Edinburgh suitable for first-year undergraduate students (SCQF level 8). The course provides an introduction to representing and interpreting data from areas across Informatics; treating in particular structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data models. For further details see the course catalogue entry.

Course material is available through the course blog and other pages linked on the menu above.

The course lecturer is Ian Stark and the most recent session of the course was in January–April 2018. Please email me at Ian.Stark@ed.ac.uk if you have any comments or questions about the course.


The background images on the Inf1-DA website show a replica Hollerith Tabulating Machine and its punched cards, developed for the 1890 US Census. This is an electromechanical machine for the automated analysis of large quantities of census data, which had previously been done by hand. Hollerith’s machine was used for all manner of data processing tasks and the company he founded was one of the four that combined and grew to become IBM.

Replica Hollerith Tabulating Machine

Replica of a Hollerith Tabulating Machine at the Computer History Museum. The item on the left of the desk is a hole punch to record data items onto a card; to the right of that the device like a waffle iron will read an entire card; and the dials at the back record aggregate totals of items seen. The box to the right of the main machine is a sorter: individual panels open under the control of the main tabulator so that an operator can then drop in a card.

Photograph by Adam Schuster on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons
CC BY 2.0

Photograph of a Hollerith punched card

Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons

An original Hollerith punched card. This is from the Library of Congress, where you can also read an article from the Railway Gazette of April 1895 on Hollerith’s Electric Tabulating Machine.

Further Reading
  • Tabulating machine and sorter. Descriptions and pictures from the National Museum of American History.

  • Herman Hollerith. Lots of information about Hollerith and his inventions, from a history of computing at Columbia University. He studied there, and was awarded a PhD for his work on the tabulating machine.

  • The Hollerith Machine. Historical information from the US Census Bureau.