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Error detection and correction - Information Management

   Posted On :  15.12.2016 07:51 am

In information theory and coding theory with applications in computer science and telecommunication, error detection and correction or error control are techniques that enable reliable delivery of digital data over unreliable communication channels.

Error detection and correction

 

In information theory and coding theory with applications in computer science and telecommunication, error detection and correction or error control are techniques that enable reliable delivery of digital data over unreliable communication channels. Many communication channels are subject to channel noise, and thus errors may be introduced during transmission from the source to a receiver. Error detection techniques allow detecting such errors, while error correction enables reconstruction of the original data in many cases.

 

1 Implementation

 

Error correction may generally be realized in two different ways:

 

          Automatic repeat request (ARQ) (sometimes also referred to as backward error correction): This is an error control technique whereby an error detection scheme is combined with requests for retransmission of erroneous data. Every block of data received is checked using the error detection code used, and if the check fails, retransmission of the data is requested – this may be done repeatedly, until the data can be verified.

 

          Forward error correction (FEC): The sender encodes the data using an error-correcting code (ECC) prior to transmission. The additional information (redundancy) added by the code is used by the receiver to recover the original data. In general, the reconstructed data is what is deemed the "most likely" original data.

 

 

ARQ and FEC may be combined, such that minor errors are corrected without retransmission, and major errors are corrected via a request for retransmission: this is called hybrid automatic repeat-request (HARQ).

 

2 Error detection schemes

 

Error detection is most commonly realized using a suitable hash function (or checksum algorithm). A hash function adds a fixed-length tag to a message, which enables receivers to verify the delivered message by recomputing the tag and comparing it with the one provided.

 

There exists a vast variety of different hash function designs. However, some are of particularly widespread use because of either their simplicity or their suitability for detecting certain kinds of errors (e.g., the cyclic redundancy check's performance in detecting burst errors).

 

Random-error-correcting codes based on minimum distance coding can provide a suitable alternative to hash functions when a strict guarantee on the minimum number of errors to be detected is desired. Repetition codes, described below, are special cases of error-correcting codes: although rather inefficient, they find applications for both error correction and detection due to their simplicity.

 

3 Repetition codes

 

A repetition code is a coding scheme that repeats the bits across a channel to achieve error-free communication. Given a stream of data to be transmitted, the data is divided into blocks of bits. Each block is transmitted some predetermined number of times. For example, to send the bit pattern "1011", the four-bit block can be repeated three times, thus producing "1011 1011 1011". However, if this twelve-bit pattern was received as "1010 1011 1011" – where the first block is unlike the other two – it can be determined that an error has occurred.

 

Repetition codes are very inefficient, and can be susceptible to problems if the error occurs in exactly the same place for each group (e.g., "1010 1010 1010" in the previous example would be detected as correct). The advantage of repetition codes is that they are extremely simple, and are in fact used in some transmissions of numbers stations.

 

4 Parity bits

 

A parity bit is a bit that is added to a group of source bits to ensure that the number of set bits (i.e., bits with value 1) in the outcome is even or odd. It is a very simple scheme that can be used to detect single or any other odd number (i.e., three, five, etc.) of errors in the output. An even number of flipped bits will make the parity bit appear correct even though the data is erroneous.

 

Extensions and variations on the parity bit mechanism are horizontal redundancy checks, vertical redundancy checks, and "double," "dual," or "diagonal" parity (used in RAID-DP).

 

5 Checksums

 

A checksum of a message is a modular arithmetic sum of message code words of a fixed word length (e.g., byte values). The sum may be negated by means of a ones'-complement operation prior to transmission to detect errors resulting in all-zero messages.

 

Checksum schemes include parity bits, check digits, and longitudinal redundancy checks. Some checksum schemes, such as the Damm algorithm, the Luhn algorithm, and the Verhoeff algorithm, are specifically designed to detect errors commonly introduced by humans in writing down or remembering identification numbers.

 

6 Cyclic redundancy checks (CRCs)

 

A cyclic redundancy check (CRC) is a single-burst-error-detecting cyclic code and non-secure hash function designed to detect accidental changes to digital data in computer networks. It is not suitable for detecting maliciously introduced errors. It is characterized by specification of a so-called generator polynomial, which is used as the divisor in a polynomial long division over a finite field, taking the input data as the dividend, and where the remainder becomes the result.

 

Cyclic codes have favorable properties in that they are well suited for detecting burst errors. CRCs are particularly easy to implement in hardware, and are therefore commonly used in digital networks and storage devices such as hard disk drives.

 

Even parity is a special case of a cyclic redundancy check, where the single-bit CRC is generated by the divisor x + 1.

 

7 Cryptographic hash functions

 

The output of a cryptographic hash function, also known as a message digest, can provide strong assurances about data integrity, whether changes of the data are accidental (e.g., due to transmission errors) or maliciously introduced. Any modification to the data will likely be detected through a mismatching hash value. Furthermore, given some hash value, it is infeasible to find some input data (other than the one given) that will yield the same hash value. If an attacker can change not only the message but also the hash value, then a keyed hash or message authentication code (MAC) can be used for additional security. Without knowing the key, it is infeasible for the attacker to calculate the correct keyed hash value for a modified message.

 

8 Error-correcting codes

 

Any error-correcting code can be used for error detection. A code with minimum Hamming distance, d, can detect up to d − 1 errors in a code word. Using minimum-distance-based error-correcting codes for error detection can be suitable if a strict limit on the minimum number of errors to be detected is desired.

 

 

Codes with minimum Hamming distance d = 2 are degenerate cases of error-correcting codes, and can be used to detect single errors. The parity bit is an example of a single-error-detecting code.

 

An error-correcting code (ECC) or forward error correction (FEC) code is a system of adding redundant data, or parity data, to a message, such that it can be recovered by a receiver even when a number of errors (up to the capability of the code being used) were introduced, either during the process of transmission, or on storage. Since the receiver does not have to ask the sender for retransmission of the data, a back-channel is not required in forward error correction, and it is therefore suitable for simplex communication such as broadcasting. Error-correcting codes are frequently used in lower-layer communication, as well as for reliable storage in media such as CDs, DVDs, hard disks, and RAM.

 

Error-correcting codes are usually distinguished between convolution codes and block codes:

 

          Convolution codes are processed on a bit-by-bit basis. They are particularly suitable for implementation in hardware, and the Viterbi decoder allows optimal decoding.

 

          Block codes are processed on a block-by-block basis. Early examples of block codes are repetition codes, Hamming codes and multidimensional parity-check codes. They were followed by a number of efficient codes, Reed–Solomon codes being the most notable due to their current widespread use. Turbo codes and low-density parity-check codes (LDPC) are relatively new constructions that can provide almost optimal efficiency.

 

Shannon's theorem is an important theorem in forward error correction, and describes the maximum information rate at which reliable communication is possible over a channel that has a certain error probability or signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). This strict upper limit is expressed in terms of the channel capacity. More specifically, the theorem says that there exist codes such that with increasing encoding length the probability of error on a discrete memory less channel can be made arbitrarily small, provided that the code rate is smaller than the channel capacity. The code rate is defined as the fraction k/n of k source symbols and n encoded symbols.

 

The actual maximum code rate allowed depends on the error-correcting code used, and may be lower. This is because Shannon's proof was only of existential nature, and did not show how to construct codes which are both optimal and have efficient encoding and decoding algorithms.

 

Automatic Repeat request (ARQ) is an error control method for data transmission that makes use of error-detection codes, acknowledgment and/or negative acknowledgment messages, and timeouts to achieve reliable data transmission. An acknowledgment is a message sent by the receiver to indicate that it has correctly received a data frame.

 

 

Usually, when the transmitter does not receive the acknowledgment before the timeout occurs (i.e., within a reasonable amount of time after sending the data frame), it retransmits the frame until it is either correctly received or the error persists beyond a predetermined number of retransmissions.

 

Three types of ARQ protocols are Stop-and-wait ARQ, Go-Back-N ARQ, and Selective Repeat ARQ.

 

ARQ is appropriate if the communication channel has varying or unknown capacity, such as is the case on the Internet. However, ARQ requires the availability of a back channel, results in possibly increased latency due to retransmissions, and requires the maintenance of buffers and timers for retransmissions, which in the case of network congestion can put a strain on the server and overall network capacity.

 

ARQ is used on shortwave radio data links in the form of ARQ-E or combined with multiplexing as ARQ-M.

 

9 Automatic repeat request (ARQ)

Automatic Repeat request (ARQ) is an error control method for data transmission that makes use of error-detection codes, acknowledgment and/or negative acknowledgment messages, and timeouts to achieve reliable data transmission. An acknowledgment is a message sent by the receiver to indicate that it has correctly received a data frame.

 

 

Usually, when the transmitter does not receive the acknowledgment before the timeout occurs (i.e., within a reasonable amount of time after sending the data frame), it retransmits the frame until it is either correctly received or the error persists beyond a predetermined number of retransmissions.

 

Three types of ARQ protocols are Stop-and-wait ARQ, Go-Back-N ARQ, and Selective Repeat ARQ.

 

ARQ is appropriate if the communication channel has varying or unknown capacity, such as is the case on the Internet. However, ARQ requires the availability of a back channel, results in possibly increased latency due to retransmissions, and requires the maintenance of buffers and timers for retransmissions, which in the case of network congestion can put a strain on the server and overall network capacity.

 

ARQ is used on shortwave radio data links in the form of ARQ-E or combined with multiplexing as ARQ-M.

 

10 Hybrid schemes

Hybrid ARQ is a combination of ARQ and forward error correction. There are two basic approaches:

 

          Messages are always transmitted with FEC parity data (and error-detection redundancy). A receiver decodes a message using the parity information, and requests retransmission using ARQ only if the parity data was not sufficient for successful decoding (identified through a failed integrity check).

 

          Messages are transmitted without parity data (only with error-detection information). If a receiver detects an error, it requests FEC information from the transmitter using ARQ, and uses it to reconstruct the original message.

 

The latter approach is particularly attractive on an erasure channel when using a rate less erasure code.

 

11 Applications

 

Applications that require low latency (such as telephone conversations) cannot use Automatic Repeat request (ARQ); they must use forward error correction (FEC). By the time an ARQ system discovers an error and re-transmits it, the re-sent data will arrive too late to be any good.

 

Applications where the transmitter immediately forgets the information as soon as it is sent (such as most television cameras) cannot use ARQ; they must use FEC because when an error occurs, the original data is no longer available. (This is also why FEC is used in data storage systems such as RAID and distributed data store).

 

Applications that use ARQ must have a return channel; applications having no return channel cannot use ARQ. Applications that require extremely low error rates (such as digital money transfers) must use ARQ. Reliability and inspection engineering also make use of the theory of error-correcting codes.

 

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