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Concept# Block code

Summary

In coding theory, block codes are a large and important family of error-correcting codes that encode data in blocks.
There is a vast number of examples for block codes, many of which have a wide range of practical applications. The abstract definition of block codes is conceptually useful because it allows coding theorists, mathematicians, and computer scientists to study the limitations of all block codes in a unified way.
Such limitations often take the form of bounds that relate different parameters of the block code to each other, such as its rate and its ability to detect and correct errors.
Examples of block codes are Reed–Solomon codes, Hamming codes, Hadamard codes, Expander codes, Golay codes, and Reed–Muller codes. These examples also belong to the class of linear codes, and hence they are called linear block codes. More particularly, these codes are known as algebraic block codes, or cyclic block codes, because they can be generated using boolean polynomials.
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This dissertation presents a systematic exposition on finite-block-length coding theory and practice. We begin with the task of identifying the maximum achievable rates over noisy, finite-block-length constrained channels, referred to as (ε, n)-capacity Cεn, with ε denoting target block-error probability and n the block length. We characterize how the optimum codes look like over finite-block-length constrained channels. Constructing good, short-block-length error-correcting codes defined on sparse graphs is the focus of the thesis. We propose a new, general method for constructing Tanner graphs having a large girth by progressively establishing edges or connections between symbol and check nodes in an edge-by-edge manner, called progressive edge-growth (PEG) construction. Lower bounds on the girth of PEG Tanner graphs and on the minimum distance of the resulting low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes are derived in terms of parameters of the graphs. The PEG construction attains essentially the same girth as Gallager's explicit construction for regular graphs, both of which meet or exceed an extension of the Erdös-Sachs bound. The PEG construction proves to be powerful for generating good, short-block-length binary LDPC codes. Furthermore, we show that the binary interpretation of GF(2b) codes on the cycle Tanner graph TG(2, dc), if b grows sufficiently large, can be used over the binary-input additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) channel as "good code for optimum decoding" and "good code for iterative decoding". Codes on sparse graphs are often decoded iteratively by a sum-product algorithm (SPA) with low complexity. We investigate efficient digital implementations of the SPA for decoding binary LDPC codes from both the architectural and algorithmic point of view, and describe new reduced-complexity derivatives thereof. The unified treatment of decoding techniques for LDPC codes provides flexibility in selecting the appropriate design point in high-speed applications from a performance, latency, and computational complexity perspective.

Shannon, in his landmark 1948 paper, developed a framework for characterizing the fundamental limits of information transmission. Among other results, he showed that reliable communication over a channel is possible at any rate below its capacity. In 2008, Arikan discovered polar codes; the only class of explicitly constructed low-complexity codes that achieve the capacity of any binary-input memoryless symmetric-output channel. Arikan's polar transform turns independent copies of a noisy channel into a collection of synthetic almost-noiseless and almost-useless channels. Polar codes are realized by sending data bits over the almost-noiseless channels and recovering them by using a low-complexity successive-cancellation (SC) decoder, at the receiver. In the first part of this thesis, we study polar codes for communications. When the underlying channel is an erasure channel, we show that almost all correlation coefficients between the erasure events of the synthetic channels decay rapidly. Hence, the sum of the erasure probabilities of the information-carrying channels is a tight estimate of the block-error probability of polar codes when used for communication over the erasure channel. We study SC list (SCL) decoding, a method for boosting the performance of short polar codes. We prove that the method has a numerically stable formulation in log-likelihood ratios. In hardware, this formulation increases the decoding throughput by 53% and reduces the decoder's size about 33%. We present empirical results on the trade-off between the length of the CRC and the performance gains in a CRC-aided version of the list decoder. We also make numerical comparisons of the performance of long polar codes under SC decoding with that of short polar codes under SCL decoding. Shannon's framework also quantifies the secrecy of communications. Wyner, in 1975, proposed a model for communications in the presence of an eavesdropper. It was shown that, at rates below the secrecy capacity, there exist reliable communication schemes in which the amount of information leaked to the eavesdropper decays exponentially in the block-length of the code. In the second part of this thesis, we study the rate of this decay. We derive the exact exponential decay rate of the ensemble-average of the information leaked to the eavesdropper in Wyner's model when a randomly constructed code is used for secure communications. For codes sampled from the ensemble of i.i.d. random codes, we show that the previously known lower bound to the exponent is exact. Our ensemble-optimal exponent for random constant-composition codes improves the lower bound extant in the literature. Finally, we show that random linear codes have the same secrecy power as i.i.d. random codes. The key to securing messages against an eavesdropper is to exploit the randomness of her communication channel so that the statistics of her observation resembles that of a pure noise process for any sent message. We study the effect of feedback on this approximation and show that it does not reduce the minimum entropy rate required to approximate a given process. However, we give examples where variable-length schemes achieve much larger exponents in this approximation in the presence of feedback than the exponents in systems without feedback. Upper-bounding the best exponent that block codes attain, we conclude that variable-length coding is necessary for achieving the improved exponents.

This work is concerned with codes, graphs and their links. Graph based codes have recently become very prominent in both information theory literature and practical applications. While most research has centered around their performance under iterative decoding, another line of study has focused on more combinatorial aspects such as their weight distribution. This is the angle we explore in the first part of this thesis, investigating the trade-off between rate and relative distance. More precisely, we show, using a probabilistic argument, that there exist graph-based codes approaching the asymptotic Gilbert-Varshamov bound, and that are encodable in time O(n1+ε) for any ε > 0, where n is the block length. The second part is concerned with more practical issues, more specifically the erasure channel. Although the codes mentioned above have been shown to perform very well in this setting, this nonetheless requires their lengths to be quite large. When short blocks are required, certain algebraic constructions become viable solutions. In particular Reed-Solomon (RS-) codes are used in a wide range of applications. However, there do not appear to be any practical uses of the more general Algebraic-Geometric (AG-) codes, despite numerous advantages. We explore in this work the use of very short AG-codes for transmissions over the erasure channel. We present their advantages over RS-codes in terms of the encoder/decoder running times, and evaluate the drawbacks by designing an efficient algorithm for computing the error probabilities of AG-codes. The work was done as part of an industrial collaboration with specific transmission problems in mind, and we include some practical data to illustrate the theoretical improvements. Graphs and codes can be related in different ways, and a graph being a good expander often yields a code with certain desirable properties. In the third part we deal with graph products and their expansion properties. Just as the derandomized squaring operation essentially takes the square of a graph and removes some edges according to a second graph, we introduce the derandomized tensoring operation which removes edges from the tensor product of two graphs according to a third graph. We obtain a bound on the expansion of the product in terms of the expansions of the constituent graphs. We also apply the same ideas to a code product, leading to the derandomized code concatenation operation and its analysis.