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Title: Synchronization Strings: Codes for Insertions and Deletions Approaching the Singleton Bound
We introduce synchronization strings , which provide a novel way to efficiently deal with synchronization errors , i.e., insertions and deletions. Synchronization errors are strictly more general and much harder to cope with than more commonly considered Hamming-type errors , i.e., symbol substitutions and erasures. For every ε > 0, synchronization strings allow us to index a sequence with an ε -O(1) -size alphabet, such that one can efficiently transform k synchronization errors into (1 + ε)k Hamming-type errors . This powerful new technique has many applications. In this article, we focus on designing insdel codes , i.e., error correcting block codes (ECCs) for insertion-deletion channels. While ECCs for both Hamming-type errors and synchronization errors have been intensely studied, the latter has largely resisted progress. As Mitzenmacher puts it in his 2009 survey [30]: “ Channels with synchronization errors...are simply not adequately understood by current theory. Given the near-complete knowledge, we have for channels with erasures and errors...our lack of understanding about channels with synchronization errors is truly remarkable. ” Indeed, it took until 1999 for the first insdel codes with constant rate, constant distance, and constant alphabet size to be constructed and only since 2016 are there constructions of constant rate insdel codes for asymptotically large noise rates. Even in the asymptotically large or small noise regimes, these codes are polynomially far from the optimal rate-distance tradeoff. This makes the understanding of insdel codes up to this work equivalent to what was known for regular ECCs after Forney introduced concatenated codes in his doctoral thesis 50 years ago. A straightforward application of our synchronization strings-based indexing method gives a simple black-box construction that transforms any ECC into an equally efficient insdel code with only a small increase in the alphabet size. This instantly transfers much of the highly developed understanding for regular ECCs into the realm of insdel codes. Most notably, for the complete noise spectrum, we obtain efficient “near-MDS” insdel codes, which get arbitrarily close to the optimal rate-distance tradeoff given by the Singleton bound. In particular, for any δ ∈ (0,1) and ε > 0, we give a family of insdel codes achieving a rate of 1 - δ - ε over a constant-size alphabet that efficiently corrects a δ fraction of insertions or deletions.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1910588 1814603 1750808 1618280
NSF-PAR ID:
10314785
Author(s) / Creator(s):
;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of the ACM
Volume:
68
Issue:
5
ISSN:
0004-5411
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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