List Decoding of Arikan's PAC Codes

by   Hanwen Yao, et al.
University of California, San Diego

Polar coding gives rise to the first explicit family of codes that provably achieve capacity with efficient encoding and decoding for a wide range of channels. However, its performance at short block lengths is far from optimal. Arikan has recently presented a new polar coding scheme, which he called polarization-adjusted convolutional (PAC) codes. Such PAC codes provide dramatic improvement in performance as compared to both standard successive-cancellation decoding as well as CRC-aided list decoding. Arikan's PAC codes are based primarily upon the following ideas: replacing CRC precoding with convolutional precoding (under appropriate rate profiling) and replacing list decoding by sequential decoding. His simulations show that PAC codes, resulting from the combination of these ideas, are close to finite-length bounds on the performance of any code under ML decoding. One of our main goals in this paper is to answer the following question: is sequential decoding essential for the superior performance of PAC codes? We show that similar performance can be achieved using list decoding when the list size L is moderately large (say, L > 128). List decoding has distinct advantages over sequential decoding is certain scenarios, such as low-SNR regimes or situations where the worst-case complexity/latency is the primary constraint. Another objective is to provide some insights into the remarkable performance of PAC codes. We first observe that both sequential decoding and list decoding of PAC codes closely match ML decoding thereof. We then estimate the number of low weight codewords in PAC codes, using these estimates to approximate the union bound on their performance under ML decoding. These results indicate that PAC codes are superior to both polar codes and Reed-Muller codes, and suggest that the goal of rate-profiling may be to optimize the weight distribution at low weights.


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