Information ≠ Data

What is the connection between automata and data? Think of data as the material that flows through the machine. The data may be unstructured or structured but in either case, data can be "serialized." Popular approaches to serialization are XML and JSON. In XML, for instance, you can create a stream of characters that contains arbitrary structure (tree, graph). This stream enters the automaton, is processed by it, and leaves the machine changed or transformed in some way. Sometimes, we think of "information" as being equivalent to "data," but this is not so since information, as with the serial encoding of XML, can encode any structure from data and formula to model and program. In the old days of writing code, we used to write a computer program and the data it accessed with hexadecimal characters (0 through F): programming in bits. A cursory glance would not indicate which bits were data and which were code. The only computer I could afford after getting a bachelors degree was the Cosmac VIP sold by RCA, and I programmed using code similar to the image in a language called CHIP-8. We are now in the age of Big Data, but without automata to process that data, we are left without code, models, machines, automata, and a way forward.