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The purpose of this paper is to organize and clarify the work of the past decade on burst-correcting codes. Our method is, first, to define an idealized model, called the classic bursty channel, toward which most burst-correcting schemes are explicitly or implicitly aimed; next, to bound the best possible performance on this channel; and, finally, to exhibit classes of schemes which are asymptotically optimum and serve as archetypes of the burstcorrecting codes actually in use. In this light we survey and categorize previous work on burst-correcting codes. Finally, we discuss qualitatively the ways in which real channels fail to satisfy the assumptions of the classic bursty channel, and the effects of such failures on the various types of burst-correcting schemes. We conclude by comparing forward-error-correction to the popular alternative of automatic repeat-request (ARQ).