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Coverage and the Use of Cyclic Redundancy Codes in Ultra-Dependable Systems

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2005, 00:00 by Michael Paulitsch, Jennifer Black, Brendan Hall, Kevin Driscoll, Elizabeth Latronico, Philip Koopman

A Cyclic Redundancy Code (CRC), when used properly, can be an effective and relatively inexpensive method to detect data corruption across communication channels. However, some systems use CRCs in ways that violate common assumptions made in analyzing CRC effectiveness, resulting in an overly optimistic prediction of system dependability. CRCs detect errors with some finite probability, which depends on factors including the strength of the particular code used, the bit-error rate, and the message length being checked. Common assumptions also include a passive network inter-stage, explicit data words, memoryless channels, and random independent symbol errors. In this paper we identify some examples of CRC usage that compromise ultra-dependable system design goals, and recommend alternate ways to improve system dependability via architectural approaches rather than error detection coding approaches.