Polar Coding Theorems for Discrete Systems

Polar coding is a recently invented technique for communication over binary-input memoryless channels. This technique allows one to transmit data at rates close to the symmetric-capacity of such channels with arbitrarily high reliability, using low-complexity encoding and decoding algorithms. As such, polar coding is the only explicit low-complexity method known to achieve the capacity of symmetric binary-input memoryless channels. The principle underlying polar coding is channel polarization: recursively combining several copies of a mediocre binary-input channel to create noiseless and useless channels. The same principle can also be used to obtain optimal low-complexity compression schemes for memoryless binary sources. In this dissertation, the generality of the polarization principle is investigated. It is first shown that polarization with recursive procedures is not limited to binary channels and sources. A family of low-complexity methods that polarize all discrete memoryless processes is introduced. In both data transmission and data compression, codes based on such methods achieve optimal rates, i.e., channel capacity and source entropy, respectively. The error probability behavior of such codes is as in the binary case. Next, it is shown that a large class of recursive constructions polarize memoryless processes, establishing the original polar codes as an instance of a large class of codes based on polarization methods. A formula to compute the error probability dependence of generalized constructions on the coding length is derived. Evaluating this formula reveals that substantial error probability improvements over the original polar codes can be achieved at large coding lengths by using generalized constructions, particularly over channels and sources with non-binary alphabets. Polarizing capabilities of recursive methods are shown to extend beyond memoryless processes: Any construction that polarizes memoryless processes will also polarize a large class of processes with memory. The principles developed are applied to settings with multiple memoryless processes. It is shown that separately applying polarization constructions to two correlated processes polarizes both the processes themselves as well as the correlations between them. These observations lead to polar coding theorems for multiple-access channels and separate compression of correlated sources. The proposed coding schemes achieve optimal sum rates in both problems.

Related material