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Definition: channel coding

Encoding a communications channel to ensure error-free transmission. Channel coding modifies the outgoing message, which is known as "forward error correction" (FEC). At the receiving end, the channel coding bits are used to verify the validity of the message and correct most errors. Channel coding improves the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).

Convolutional Codes
Convolutional codes were introduced in 1955 by Peter Elias. The input bits are transformed by predefined algorithms and decoded at the receiving end. Viterbi and BCJR are the common convolutional algorithms. See Viterbi decoder.

Introduced by Robert Gallager in 1960 and rediscovered more than 30 years later, the low-density parity check (LDPC) method creates a block parity bit that takes little processing to decode. Also known as "Gallager codes."

Turbo Codes
Turbo codes were introduced in 1993 by Claude Berrou and were licensed by France Telecom until 2013. There are several turbo code variations; however, the primary method passes the input bits through two convolutional decoders. The two decoders exchange probabilistic information to assist each other similar to the way a turbo engine works.

Polar Codes
Polar codes were introduced in 2009 by Turkish professor Erdal Arikan. Creating a "virtual channel" that is the polar opposite of the main transmission stream, polar codes require more processing at both ends. However, they offer high performance and have been adopted by the 3GPP for the 5G New Radio (NR) control channels.