I am a bit confused on the difference between Cyclic Redundancy Check and Hamming Code. Both add a check value attached based on the some arithmetic operation of the bits in the message being transmitted. For Hamming, it can be either odd or even parity bits added at the end of a message and for CRC, it's the remainder of a polynomial division of their contents.

However, CRC and Hamming are referred to as fundamentally different ideas. Can someone please elaborate on why this is?

Also why is the CRC compared with the FCS(Frame check sequence) to see if the received message is with or without error? Why not just use the FCS from the beginning? (I might be totally flawed in my understanding by asking this question, please correct me.)

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    $\begingroup$ Please ask only one question per post. $\endgroup$ – Yuval Filmus Feb 28 '16 at 9:55
  • CRC is conceived as the remainder of a polynomial division. It is efficient for detecting errors, when the calculated remainder does not match. Depending on the CRC size, it can detect bursts of errors (10 bits zeroed, for example), which is great for checking communications.

The "FCS" term is used sometimes for some transformed version of the CRC (Ethernet for example) : The purpose is to apply the CRC algorithm to both the data and its FCS to cancel the remainder value and get a constant (just like even parity is ensuring an even number of "1" bits, including the parity bit).

  • Hamming codes are both detection and correction codes. Adding the Hamming code bits, you ensure some distance (as the number of differing bits) between valid codes. For example, with 3 bits distance, you can correct any 1 bit error OR detect any 2 bit error.

Reduced to a single check bit, Hamming codes and CRC are identical (x+1 polynomial) to parity.


Both CRC and the Hamming code are binary linear codes. One significant difference is that the Hamming code only works on data of some fixed size (depending on the Hamming code used), whereas CRC is a convolutional code which works for data of any size.

So, are CRC and the Hamming code fundamentally different ideas? This is a philosophical rather than a technical question, and so has no definite answer. It could also depend on your point of view. From far away, both are binary linear codes. From up close, there are some crucial differences.


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