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Synthetic data

Synthetic data

(also artificial data, generated data)

Synthetic data definition

Synthetic data is a type of artificially generated data that replicates the attributes and features of real-world data while avoiding the use of genuine sensitive or confidential information. This data is produced through an assortment of statistical and mathematical methods, including machine learning algorithms. Synthetic data is commonly utilized for testing, training, and validating systems or models while adhering to privacy regulations.

See also: artificial intelligence, machine learning

Synthetic data examples

  • Anonymized customer datasets: Generated data that maintains the distribution and patterns of the original data, allowing businesses to perform analysis without exposing sensitive customer information.
  • Simulated financial transactions: Artificial data created to test fraud detection algorithms, replicating real-world transaction patterns without using real transaction data.
  • Synthetic images or videos: Generated visual data used for training computer vision models, particularly when real-world data is scarce or difficult to obtain.

Comparing synthetic data to real data


  • Protects privacy by not using sensitive or personal information.
  • Can be generated in large quantities, reducing data scarcity issues.
  • Allows for the creation of customized datasets to test specific scenarios or edge cases.


  • May not perfectly capture the nuances and complexities of real-world data.
  • The quality of synthetic data depends on the accuracy and effectiveness of the underlying models or techniques used to generate it.

Tips for using synthetic data

  • Use synthetic data when privacy concerns or regulations limit the availability of real-world data.
  • Carefully validate synthetic data to ensure it accurately represents the target population or distribution.
  • Continuously update and refine the models used to generate synthetic data to maintain its quality and relevance.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security