# 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.

Error detection is the detection of errors caused by noise or other impairments during transmission from the transmitter to the receiver. Error correction is the detection of errors and reconstruction of the original, error-free data.

The modern development of error-correcting codes in 1947 is due to Richard W. Hamming. A description of Hamming's code appeared in Claude Shannon's A Mathematical Theory of Communication and was quickly generalized by Marcel J. E. Golay.

The general idea for achieving error detection and correction is to add some redundancy (i.e., some extra data) to a message, which receivers can use to check consistency of the delivered message, and to recover data that has been determined to be corrupted. Error-detection and correction schemes can be either systematic or non-systematic: In a systematic scheme, the transmitter sends the original data, and attaches a fixed number of check bits (or parity data), which are derived from the data bits by some deterministic algorithm. If only error detection is required, a receiver can simply apply the same algorithm to the received data bits and compare its output with the received check bits; if the values do not match, an error has occurred at some point during the transmission. In a system that uses a non-systematic code, the original message is transformed into an encoded message that has at least as many bits as the original message.

Good error control performance requires the scheme to be selected based on the characteristics of the communication channel. Common channel models include memory-less models where errors occur randomly and with a certain probability, and dynamic models where errors occur primarily in bursts. Consequently, error-detecting and correcting codes can be generally distinguished between random-error-detecting/correcting and burst-error-detecting/correcting. Some codes can also be suitable for a mixture of random errors and burst errors.

If the channel capacity cannot be determined, or is highly variable, an error-detection scheme may be combined with a system for retransmissions of erroneous data. This is known as automatic repeat request (ARQ), and is most notably used in the Internet. An alternate approach for error control is hybrid automatic repeat request (HARQ), which is a combination of ARQ and error-correction coding.