Error detection is a technique used in computing and communications to identify whether data has been altered (due to noise or other errors) during transmission or storage. It doesn’t correct the error but signals that an error occurred. Here’s a deeper dive:

Common Methods of Error Detection:

Parity Bit:

  • A parity bit is an additional bit included with the data transfer. Depending on the type of parity, it ensures that the number of set bits (bits with a value of 1) is either even (even parity) or odd (odd parity).
  • While this method can detect single bit errors, it fails to detect scenarios where an even number of bits are altered.


  • A checksum is a computed value based on the sum of the data values. It’s sent along with the data during transmission. At the receiving end, the checksum is recalculated based on the received data and compared to the received checksum to detect errors.
  • It can detect errors where the sum of the altered bits is not zero but might not catch all errors.

Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC):

  • CRC is a method based on polynomial division. Data is appended with CRC bits, and the receiver checks whether the appended block of data is divisible by a predetermined polynomial.
  • It’s more powerful than checksums and can detect more error scenarios.

Block Sum Check:

  • The data to be sent is arranged in a matrix, and row-wise and column-wise parity checks are applied. The sum of each row and column is sent alongside the data.
  • While more robust than simple parity, it’s still possible for some errors to go undetected.

Hamming Distance:

  • In coding theory, the Hamming distance between two strings of equal length is the number of positions at which the corresponding symbols are different.
  • By ensuring that code words have a sufficient Hamming distance between them, it becomes possible to detect errors when data is received that doesn’t match any valid code word.


  • Simplicity: Some error detection methods (like parity) are straightforward to implement.
  • Quick Detection: Enables fast detection of errors, especially in systems where it’s more efficient to retransmit data than to correct it on the spot.


  • No Correction: Error detection only identifies that an error occurred. It doesn’t pinpoint the exact nature or location of the error.
  • Not Always Accurate: Some methods might miss certain types of errors or might falsely indicate an error when none occurred.

In scenarios where data integrity is crucial, error detection is combined with error correction to not only identify but also rectify any discrepancies in the data.