Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Universal Product Code Question

  1. Mar 18, 2008 #1
    People are coming up with new products all over the world every day. So how is it that no two products ever have the same Universal Product Code (Bar Code) at the same time? Or do they?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I don't know how to calculate the number of possible combinations encoded, but I'm pretty sure that it exceeds the possible number of products on the planet.
  4. Mar 19, 2008 #3
    There are also products that go out of date, become obsolete take that into account.
  5. Mar 19, 2008 #4
    Well, you've got 10^12 possible numbers. Can you honestly find one billion (or one trillion, depending on where you live) products in this world?
  6. Mar 19, 2008 #5
    You ever been to WalMart?
  7. Mar 19, 2008 #6
    I was just wondering if large stores just leave it to chance and probability that they won't accidently end up with a winter coat and a tennis racquet with the same code, or if there is some centralized process involved. Particularly if the same computer program is used to generate codes simultaneously in two locations.
  8. Mar 19, 2008 #7

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There is what amounts to a bar code registry - but foreign manufacturers do not play by the game. The UPC convention is only in US and Canada. So there is duplication.

    Plus, all stores have the option of generating their own in-house UPC - as long as the UPC starts with a 2.

    Ever see a box with several UPC's or one with another UPC label slapped over another?
    Ever bring a box up to a register and find that the register cannot figure out what it is?
    The PLU fails because the UPC has not been entered into the local store's system.

    In other words, it is not a "unviersal" barcode.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Universal Product Code Question