Introduction to Computer Data Representation

Introduction to Computer Data Representation introduces readers to the representation of data within computers. Starting from basic principles of number representation in computers, the book covers ...
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Checksums and Error Control

Pp. 191-218 (28)

Peter Fenwick


Much computer data is prone to errors, especially when transmitted in space (or in time, as in data storage). The corresponding need for error detection and correction has been recognised from the very beginning of electrical computation. Error correction is a large and complex subject which is just touched-on here, but error detection is a much simpler, but seldom discussed subject and is the main emphasis of this chapter. After a brief mention of parity checks in textual data transmission, the emphasis is on checksums for verifying strings of decimal digits. Check-digit algorithms include the Luhn, those used in ISBN codes, and the Verhoe and Damm checks, both based on advanced number theory. The chapter concludes with discussion of the more-powerful message checksums, especially those of Fletcher and Adler, and the Cyclic Redundancy checks.


Parity codes, Hamming codes, modular arithmetic, Luhn checksum, ISBN checksum, Verhoe checksum, Damm checksum, Fletcher checksum, Adler checksum, CRC checksums.


The University of Auckland (Retired) New Zealand