Punctured Large Distance Codes, and Many Reed-Solomon Codes, Achieve List-Decoding Capacity

09/24/2021
by   Venkatesan Guruswami, et al.
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We prove the existence of Reed-Solomon codes of any desired rate R ∈ (0,1) that are combinatorially list-decodable up to a radius approaching 1-R, which is the information-theoretic limit. This is established by starting with the full-length [q,k]_q Reed-Solomon code over a field 𝔽_q that is polynomially larger than the desired dimension k, and "puncturing" it by including k/R randomly chosen codeword positions. Our puncturing result is more general and applies to any code with large minimum distance: we show that a random rate R puncturing of an 𝔽_q-linear "mother" code whose relative distance is close enough to 1-1/q is list-decodable up to a radius approaching the q-ary list-decoding capacity bound h_q^-1(1-R). In fact, for large q, or under a stronger assumption of low-bias of the mother-code, we prove that the threshold rate for list-decodability with a specific list-size (and more generally, any "local" property) of the random puncturing approaches that of fully random linear codes. Thus, all current (and future) list-decodability bounds shown for random linear codes extend automatically to random puncturings of any low-bias (or large alphabet) code. This can be viewed as a general derandomization result applicable to random linear codes. To obtain our conclusion about Reed-Solomon codes, we establish some hashing properties of field trace maps that allow us to reduce the list-decodability of RS codes to its associated trace (dual-BCH) code, and then apply our puncturing theorem to the latter. Our approach implies, essentially for free, optimal rate list-recoverability of punctured RS codes as well.

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