Parity checking uses parity bits to check that data has been transmitted accurately. The parity bit is added to every data unit (typically seven or eight bits) that are transmitted. The parity bit for each unit is set so that all bytes have either an odd number or an even number of set bits.
How Parity Checking Works
Assume, for example, that two devices are communicating with even parity (the most common form of parity checking). As the transmitting device sends data, it counts the number of set bits in each group of seven bits. If the number of set bits is even, it sets the parity bit to 0; if the number of set bits is odd, it sets the parity bit to 1. In this way, every byte has an even number of set bits. On the receiving side, the device checks each byte to make sure that it has an even number of set bits. If it finds an odd number of set bits, the receiver knows there was an error during transmission.
The sender and receiver must both agree to use parity checking and to agree on whether parity is to be odd or even. If the two sides are not configured with the same parity sense, communication will be impossible.
Parity Checking is Basic Error Detection
Parity checking is the most basic form of error detection in communications. Although it detects many errors, it is not foolproof, because it cannot detect situations in which an even number of bits in the same data unit are changed due to electrical noise. There are many other more sophisticated protocols for ensuring transmission accuracy, such as MNP and CCITT V.42.
Stay up to date on the latest developments in Internet terminology with a free weekly newsletter from Webopedia. Join to subscribe now.
From A3 to LOL and ZZZ this guide lists 1,500 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting... Read More »SEO Dictionary
From keyword analysis to backlinks and Google search engine algorithm updates, our search engine optimization glossary lists 85 SEO terms you need... Read More »Slideshow: History of Microsoft Operating Systems
Microsoft Windows is a family of operating systems for personal computers. In this article we look at the history of Microsoft operating... Read More »
Learn about each of the five generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that we use... Read More »Computer Architecture Study Guide
Computer architecture provides an introduction to system design basics for most computer science students. Read More »Network Fundamentals Study Guide
Networking fundamentals teaches the building blocks of modern network design. Learn different types of networks, concepts, architecture and... Read More »