A lower bound on list size for list decoding


Guruswami, Venkatesan, and Salil Vadhan. “A lower bound on list size for list decoding.” IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 56, no. 11 (2010): 5681-5688.
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Version History: Preliminary version published in RANDOM '05 (https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/11538462_27) and attached as RANDOM2005.pdf.

q-ary error-correcting code \(C ⊆ \{1,2,...,q\}^n\) is said to be list decodable to radius \(\rho\) with list size L if every Hamming ball of radius ρ contains at most L codewords of C. We prove that in order for a q-ary code to be list-decodable up to radius \((1–1/q)(1–ε)n\), we must have \(L = Ω(1/ε^2)\). Specifically, we prove that there exists a constant \(c_q >0\) and a function \(f_q\) such that for small enough \(ε > 0\), if C is list-decodable to radius\( (1–1/q)(1–ε)n \)with list size \(c_q /ε^2\), then C has at most \(f q (ε) \)codewords, independent of n. This result is asymptotically tight (treating q as a constant), since such codes with an exponential (in n) number of codewords are known for list size \(L = O(1/ε^2)\).

A result similar to ours is implicit in Blinovsky [Bli] for the binary \((q=2)\) case. Our proof works for all alphabet sizes, and is technically and conceptually simpler.


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Last updated on 06/03/2020