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Low-density parity-check codes (LDPC) are among the most powerful error correcting tools today available. For this reason they became very popular in several applications such as the digital satellite broadcasting system (DVB-S2), wireless local area network (IEEE 802.11n) and metropolitan area network (802.16e). Whereas several code-specific decoders have been proposed in the literature, the implementation of a high performance yet flexible LDPC decoder still is a challenging topic. This work presents a novel formulation of the decoding algorithm that strongly simplifies internal communication requirements and enables the development of decoders supporting generally defined LDPC codes. The resulting architecture is tailored to decode both IEEE 802.11n and IEEE 802.16e LDPC codes, as well as any other code of comparable complexity. The implementation cost deriving from the full flexibility offered by the proposed approach is also evaluated.