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Computing the word-, symbol-, and bit-error rates for block error-correcting codes

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3 Author(s)
Desset, C. ; IMEC, Leuven, Belgium ; Macq, B. ; Vandendorpe, L.

In order to select error-correcting codes for various applications, their performances have to be determined. However, when targeting error-rate computations for block error-correcting codes, many required results are missing in the coding literature. Even in the simple case of binary codes and bounded-distance decoding, classical texts do not provide a bit-error rate (BER) expression taking into account both decoding errors and failures. In the case of nonbinary codes used to protect binary symbols, such as Reed-Solomon codes in many applications, there is no available result making realistic channel assumptions in order to derive BERs. Finally, for the more complex case of complete decoding, only some bounds are available, such as the union one. This paper presents new approximations of error rates for block error-correcting codes as a function of the channel BER (crossover probability). We extend an existing approximation in order to consider not only bounded-distance decoding, but also complete "nearest-neighbor" decoding. We also develop approximations able to deal with nonbinary codes. Combined with state-of-the-art approximations, these new results enable the computation of bit-, symbol-, and word-error rates in various decoding situations. They can consider separately errors related to erroneously decoded words and decoding failures, and they provide accurate estimates of error rates. As they do not require detailed information about the structure of codes, they are general enough to be used in simple comparisons between different codes, avoiding the need for simulations.

Published in:

Communications, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:52 ,  Issue: 6 )