MTA 98-364 Theory: Data Validation and verification

Validation and verification are two ways to check that the data entered into a computer is correct. Data entered incorrectly is of little use.

Validation

Validation is an automatic computer check to ensure that the data entered is sensible and reasonable. It does not check the accuracy of data.
For example, a secondary school student is likely to be aged between 11 and 16. The computer can be programmed only to accept numbers between 11 and 16. This is a range check.
However, this does not guarantee that the number typed in is correct. For example, a student’s age might be 14, but if 11 is entered it will be valid but incorrect.
Example of validation error in high school database. School is visible through the window

Types of validation

There are a number of validation types that can be used to check the data that is being entered.

Validation type
How it works
Example usage
Check digit
The last one or two digits in a code are used to check the other digits are correct
Bar code readers in supermarkets use check digits
Format check
Checks the data is in the right format
A National Insurance number is in the form LL 99 99 99 L where L is any letter and 9 is any number
Length check
Checks the data isn’t too short or too long
A password which needs to be six letters long
Lookup table
Looks up acceptable values in a table
There are only seven possible days of the week
Presence check
Checks that data has been entered into a field
In most databases a key field cannot be left blank
Range check
Checks that a value falls within the specified range
Number of hours worked must be less than 50 and more than 0
Spell check
Looks up words in a dictionary
When word processing

Verification

Verification is performed to ensure that the data entered exactly matches the original source.
There are two main methods of verification:
  1. Double entry – entering the data twice and comparing the two copies. This effectively doubles the workload, and as most people are paid by the hour, it costs more too.
  2. Proofreading data – this method involves someone checking the data entered against the original document. This is also time-consuming and costly.
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