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MAS3704 : Coding Theory

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Stefan Kolb
  • Owning School: Mathematics, Statistics and Physics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


To explain the necessity for error correcting codes, to establish their general properties, to show how to construct linear and cyclic codes and to gain practice in their use.

Module Summary
Error-correcting codes are at the heart of the digital revolution. They are used to store music on CDs and video on DVDs; to send data across telecommunications networks; and to broadcast digital television. In practice, a digital signal may be degraded in transit by many factors - cosmic rays, fluctuations in power supplies, even (in the case of a CD) dust and scratches - so that some 0s are changed to 1s and vice versa; error-correcting codes are designed to rectify this. We work with words, binary strings of some standard length n. Certain words are designated as codewords, and the signal is converted to a sequence of codewords before transmission. At the receiving end, each word is examined as it arrives, and, if it turns out to be a non-codeword (indicating that the signal has been degraded), it is replaced by the nearest codeword. This explains why small imperfections on a CD do not affect the quality of the sound that you hear. We shall concentrate on a particularly nice class of codes called linear codes, a beautiful application of elementary linear algebra. Here errors can be corrected automatically by simple matrix operations. In particular, we shall investigate cyclic codes, linear codes based on polynomials.

Outline Of Syllabus

General properties of codes. Perfect codes. Linear codes. Parity-check matrices and syndrome decoding. Hamming codes. Extensions of codes. Cyclic codes.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion151:0015:00Completion of in course assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture51:005:00Problem classes
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00Revision lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00Formal lectures
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study581:0058:00Preparation time for lectures, background reading, coursework review
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
MAS8704Coding Theory
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used for the delivery of theory and explanation of methods, illustrated with examples, and for giving general feedback on marked work. Problem Classes are used to help develop the students’ abilities at applying the theory to solving problems. Tutorials are used to identify and resolve specific queries raised by students and to allow students to receive individual feedback on marked work. In addition, office hours (two per week) will provide an opportunity for more direct contact between individual students and the lecturer.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A80N/A
Exam Pairings
Module Code Module Title Semester Comment
Coding Theory2N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prob solv exercises2M5Coursework assignments
Prob solv exercises2M5Coursework assignments
Prob solv exercises2M5Coursework assignments
Prob solv exercises2M5Coursework assignments
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

A substantial formal unseen examination is appropriate for the assessment of the material in this module. The coursework assignments are expected to consist of four written assignments of equal weight: the exact nature of assessment will be explained at the start of the module. These allow the students to develop their problem solving techniques, to practise the methods learnt in the module, to assess their progress and to receive feedback; this assessment has a secondary formative purpose as well as its primary summative purpose. The coursework assignments may be written assignments, computer based assessments or a combination of the two, and in the case of combined assessments the deadlines for the two parts will not necessarily be the same.

Reading Lists