Skip to Main Content
While every network node only relays messages in a traditional communication system, the recent network coding (NC) paradigm proposes to implement simple in-network processing with packet combinations in the nodes. NC extends the concept of “encoding” a message beyond source coding (for compression) and channel coding (for protection against errors and losses). It has been shown to increase network throughput compared to traditional networks implementation, to reduce delay and to provide robustness to transmission errors and network dynamics. These features are so appealing for multimedia applications that they have spurred a large research effort towards the development of multimedia-specific NC techniques. This paper reviews the recent work in NC for multimedia applications and focuses on the techniques that fill the gap between NC theory and practical applications. It outlines the benefits of NC and presents the open challenges in this area. The paper initially focuses on multimedia-specific aspects of network coding, in particular delay, in-network error control, and media-specific error control. These aspects permit to handle varying network conditions as well as client heterogeneity, which are critical to the design and deployment of multimedia systems. After introducing these general concepts, the paper reviews in detail two applications that lend themselves naturally to NC via the cooperation and broadcast models, namely peer-to-peer multimedia streaming and wireless networking.