ECE4253 Digital Communications | |

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering - University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada | |

Like the ISBN used for book identification, the credit card number shown below is specially constructed to incorporate error detection. In particular, the final digit is included only as an error control mechanism.

This credit card number holds a secret.

Error control codes are often designed for known applications where certain types of errors are expected to occur. In this case, the most common errors expected would be those which humans would typically make when writing or typing the number or entering it on a web site. These errors would normally be either "write a single digit incorrectly", or "switch two adjacent digits". Of course, the ability to detect errors also provides a simple test to identify invalid numbers which might be encountered (for example, if someone were to forge a credit card number).

The final digit in the number provides the desired error detection capability. It is computed when the number is issued so that the entire value can be checked for errors whenever it is transcribed or transmitted.

4563 9601 2200 1999

The final digit is appended for error control.

The final digit is appended for error control.

4 5 6 3 9 6 0 1 2 2 0 0 1 9 9 7 4 + 5 + 6 + 3 + 9 + 6 + 0 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 0 + 0 + 1 + 9 + 9 = 57

57 ≡ 7 (mod 10)

*After division by 10, the remainder is 7.*

4 5 6 3 9 6 0 1 2 2 0 0 1 9 9 9 x2 x1 x2 x1 x2 x1 x2 x1 x2 x1 x2 x1 x2 x1 x2 x1 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 8 5 12 3 18 6 0 1 4 2 0 0 2 9 18 9 8 + 5 +1+2+ 3 +1+8+ 6 + 0 + 1 + 4 + 2 + 0 + 0 + 2 + 9 +1+8+ 9 = 70

70 ≡ 0 (mod 10)

*The number is correct if a zero result is obtained.*

It is important when applying this method to numbers of different
lengths that the rightmost digit (the check digit) is arranged to be multiplied by 1.
It can be observed that the presence or absence of leading zeros in a number to be checked has no effect on the result. (e.g. 8913105 or 08913105 or 00008913105 would all pass the test)

DIGITS 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ------------------- Contribution (x1) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Contribution (x2) 0 2 4 6 8 1 3 5 7 9

Contribution of LUHN-10 digits to the summation.

**1. Single Bad Digit**

If a single digit is changed to another, the total sum must change, whether or not that digit is multiplied by 2. A single-digit error is always detected as each possible digit has a unique contribution and the sum cannot change by a multiple of 10.

**2. Adjacent Digits Switched (e.g. 34 becomes 43)**

The LUHN-10 method is not perfect in detecting swapped digits. Although swapping two adjacent digits will generally result in a checksum failure, there are cases which will not be detected.

From the table above, it can be seen that the contribution of the digits 9 and 0 do not change with position. If the digits 9 and 0 are side-by-side and get swapped, their contribution to the total sum will be the same.

... 9 0... ... 0 9... ... x1 x2... ... x1 x2... -- -- -- -- 9 0 0 18 9 + 0 = 9 0 +1+8 = 9

It can be argued that for all possible two digit values (00..99) there are 90 cases of two different digits side by side and that the algorithm will fail to detect swapped digits in two of these cases ('09' becomes '90', and '90' becomes '09'). Consequently, swapped digits will be detected 88 times out of 90 (97.8%).

If two non-adjacent digits are swapped, either the change is not detected at all (if they are both multiplied by 1, or both by 2), or the situation is identical to swapping adjacent digits.

The following applications use LUHN-10 in their client numbers:

- Virtually all credit card numbers (MasterCard, Visa, American Express)
- Canadian SIN - Social Insurance Numbers (9 digits)
- Canadian GST/HST Registration Numbers (9 digits) -
*Found on receipts as 'R123456789'* - Province of NB Medicare Numbers (9 digits)
- Mobile Phone IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number (15 digits)

Perhaps the most 'public' source of numbers to check in Canada is found in the GST/HST registration number, as every merchant is required to print this nine-digit tax number on all sales receipts.

Try the EE4253 Online LUHN-10 Checking Tool

Wed Feb 26 12:57:15 AST 2020
Last Updated: 17 OCT 2002 |
Richard Tervo [ tervo@unb.ca ] | Back to the course homepage... |