Error Control

Definition of Error Control

Error control is a technique used in data communication systems to detect and correct errors that may occur during the transmission of information. It involves the use of error detection codes, such as parity bits or checksums, to identify corrupted data and error correction codes to fix these errors. This process helps maintain the integrity of data, ensuring accurate and reliable communication between devices.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Error control is essential for ensuring reliable data transmission by detecting and correcting errors that may occur during transmission.
  2. There are two primary methods of error control: error detection and error correction, which involve parity, checksum, and cyclic redundancy check (CRC) techniques.
  3. Automatic Repeat reQuest (ARQ) protocols, including Stop-and-Wait, Go-Back-N, and Selective Repeat, are commonly used for error control to ensure that lost or corrupted data is retransmitted as needed.

Importance of Error Control

Error Control is an important technology term because it refers to the methods and procedures that detect and correct errors occurring during data communication and processing.

These errors can compromise the accuracy, reliability, and integrity of the information being transmitted or stored.

By implementing error control techniques, such as error detection and error correction methods, systems can minimize data corruption, ensure the smooth functioning of various communication systems and networks, and maintain the overall quality of service.

Consequently, error control plays a crucial role in maintaining the efficiency and dependability of digital systems, making it a vital aspect of technology and data management.


Error Control is an essential mechanism in the field of electronic communication and digital information processing, designed to ensure the accuracy, integrity and reliability of data transmissions. The primary purpose of error control techniques is to detect and correct any errors or corruptions that may occur during data transmission, storage or processing.

This is particularly crucial in data communications and storage technologies, where even minor errors in the transmission of data could lead to significant performance degradation, data loss or compromised system security. One common method used to achieve error control is through the use of error detection and correction codes, such as parity bits, checksums, and cyclic redundancy checks.

These codes function by adding extra information to the original data, allowing the recipient to identify and correct any discrepancies that may have occurred during transmission. Another commonly employed strategy is the Automatic Repeat reQuest (ARQ) protocol, which monitors the transmitted data and requests retransmission of any corrupted or lost data packets.

By using these and other error control techniques, communication systems can maintain the accuracy and reliability of transmitted data even in noisy or imperfect environments, ensuring successful functioning of digital communication and data storage systems.

Examples of Error Control

Error control is a crucial aspect of communication and data transfer technologies, ensuring that information is accurately transmitted and received. Here are three real-world examples of error control in technology:

Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ): ARQ is used in communication systems like mobile networks and data connections, such as Wi-Fi, to ensure reliable data transfer. After receiving a data packet, the receiver sends an acknowledgment to the sender. If the acknowledgment is not received within a certain time frame or the packet is corrupted due to transmission errors, the sender retransmits the packet to ensure error-free transfer of data. This method significantly improves the reliability of data transfer across noisy or unstable channels.

Forward Error Correction (FEC): FEC is widely applied in digital communication systems to correct errors without requesting retransmission. The sender adds redundancy to the original data using error-correcting codes, enabling the receiver to detect and correct a limited number of errors without the need for retransmission. For example, FEC is commonly used in satellite communication systems and digital broadcasting (DVB), as retransmission is not feasible in these cases due to delays and implementation complexity.

Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC): CRC is a popular error-detecting code used in digital networks, such as Ethernet or storage devices like hard drives and memory cards, to detect accidental changes to raw data. The sender calculates a checksum based on the data and transmits both the data and the checksum. Upon receiving the message, the receiver calculates the checksum again and compares it with the received one. If there is a mismatch, the receiver assumes that an error has occurred in the transmission and requests a retransmission or discards the data, depending on the specific implementation. While CRC is not an error-correcting code, it is a widely-adopted error-detection method essential for ensuring accurate data transmission.

Error Control

What is Error Control?

Error control is a technique used in data communications to detect and correct errors that may occur during the transmission or storage of digital data. It ensures the reliability and accuracy of the information being transmitted.

What are the different types of Error Control?

There are two main types of error control: error detection and error correction. Error detection involves identifying errors in the data using techniques like checksums, parity bits, or cyclic redundancy checks (CRC). Error correction involves repairing the errors in the data using methods like Hamming codes, Reed-Solomon codes, or Turbo codes.

Why is Error Control important in data communication?

Error control is essential in data communication to ensure the reliability and integrity of the data being transmitted over noisy channels or stored in faulty media. Without error control, corrupted data may be received or retrieved, leading to incorrect information and potentially severe consequences for the systems relying on the accurate transmission of data.

How does Checksum work for detecting errors?

A checksum is a simple error detection method that involves calculating a value based on the data being transmitted or stored and then including that value along with the data. The receiver or storage device calculates a new checksum based on the received data and compares it with the transmitted checksum. If the two checksums match, the data is assumed to be error-free. If they do not match, an error has occurred during transmission or storage, and the data is either rejected or corrected, depending on the error control techniques being used.

What is the difference between Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) and Forward Error Correction (FEC)?

Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) and Forward Error Correction (FEC) are two different approaches to error control. ARQ relies on error detection and retransmission of corrupted data, while FEC uses error correction codes to proactively correct errors without the need for retransmission. ARQ requires feedback from the receiver to the sender to request retransmission, which can introduce delays and may not be suitable for some time-sensitive applications. In contrast, FEC can correct errors without any feedback, making it more suitable for real-time or delay-sensitive applications.

Related Technology Terms

  • Forward Error Correction (FEC)
  • Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ)
  • Parity Bit
  • Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC)
  • Checksum

Sources for More Information


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