I have two sets of data, dataset1 and dataset2. They may be different from each other, both in content and in structure. I am going to generate the list of these differences.


dataset1 has a column called "Name", dataset2 does not have this column, so adding the column "Name" to dataset2 would be generated in this list of actions.


I need a verb that describes that whole process.

I am going to _____________ dataset1 and dataset2

One that comes to mind is differentiate, but I have seen that used more in pure mathematics and I don't feel like it captures the actual intent.

  • perhaps "identify structural differences between dataset1 and dataset2".
    – Graffito
    Dec 21, 2015 at 17:35

3 Answers 3


The correct term is compare:

  • to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences (Dictionary.com)
  • to examine the character or qualities of especially in order to discover resemblances or differences (Merriam-Webster)

Because you are working with data and performing a detailed analysis of one or more aspects of these data sets, you could also use the term analyze.

  • to study or determine the nature and relationship of the parts of by analysis (Merriam-Webster)

However, this word lacks the specific meaning that you are looking at two things, not just one.

If you don't need a single word, you could state:

I am going to comprehensively identify the list of differences in content and structure...

That is precise, but at the cost of being quite verbose.


It sounds to me like the overall effort you are undertaking is a unification process to harmonize the dataset attribute schema.


  1. to make or become one; unite


  1. To bring or come into agreement or harmony.

Note that the definition of unify means to become one so you aren't unifying the datasets or even the dataset attributes, you are unifying the schema being used to define which attributes are present.

My management often uses harmonize for these types of efforts- especially when trying to bring multiple different projects into alignment.

1Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
2American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

  • Not quite; executing the list of differences against one of the sets would "unify" the two datasets, but I am interested in naming the action of calculating their differences. When I do write the code to actually transform the dataset I will look to this suggestion for naming it though, thanks!
    – tt9
    Dec 21, 2015 at 18:50
  • @user2313300- I agree that compare is the verb for discovering the differences. I disagree that modifying one list to match the other would unify the datasets- the datasets aren't being unified- which would mean they either get merged into a single dataset or their contents were made the same. What is being unified is the attribute schema such that the same schema is being applied to both sets. It's a fine distinction, I know.
    – Jim
    Dec 21, 2015 at 18:56
  • "There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things." -- Phil Karlton
    – tt9
    Dec 21, 2015 at 18:58

Diff is a term from programming that seems appropriate here.

I am going to diff dataset1 and dataset2.

Diff is defined in the Oxford Dictionary of English thus:

verb [ with obj. ]

Computing - compare (files) in order to determine how or whether they differ.

Compare is not appropriate because it is enough to compare by finding similarities only -- hence the school-test instruction to "compare and contrast" A and B. It is not enough to say "compare A and B" if you want the differences too. So contrast is another candidate term.

I am going to contrast dataset1 and dataset2.

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