Undergraduate Teaching

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4F5: Advanced Communications & Coding, 2016-17

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4F5: Advanced Communications & Coding, 2016-17

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Dr J Sayir


Dr J Sayir

Timing and Structure

Michaelmas term. 16 lectures. Assessment: 100% exam


The main pre-requisite is a good background in probability. 3F1 recommended; 3F4 useful but not essential


The aims of the course are to:

  • Introduce students to the principles of information theory and coding, which form the foundations of modern communication systems
  • To give students an understanding of the challenges inherent in wireless communcation, and the tools to design modulation schemes that address these challenges


As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Explain why entropy and channel capacity arise as fundamental limits for data compression and transmission, respectively.
  • Implement decoders for error-correcting codes such as Reed-Solomon and LDPC codes
  • Be familiar with standard modulation techniques, and be able to analyse their performance in the presence of noise
  • Understand the concept of fading in wireless channels and how diversty techniques can be used to combat fading


  • The first part of the course will describe the concepts used to measure information, and show how these can be used to characterize the fundamental limits of data compression and data transmission.
  • The second part of the course will deal with error correcting codes, which are practical techniques to achieve high data rates in the presence of noise. We discuss classical codes such as Reed-Solomon codes (used in DVDs and DSL) as well as modern techniques such as LDPC codes (used in wireless communication and hard disks). We will also discuss a few cryptographic algorithms for secure communications as they rely on the same mathematical fundamentals we will introduce to discuss error correction.
  • The final part of the course will cover modulation techniques and wireless communication. We will discuss the phenomenon of fading, a key concept in wireless communication, and look at how to combat fading by using diversity in time/frequency/space.

All the topics will be presented in the context of an integrated end-to-end communication system.

Principles of Information Theory (5L)

  • Review of basic concepts:
    • The end-to-end communication system – sources, channels, encoders & decoders
    • How do we measure information? Entropy, Conditional Entropy, Mutual Information
  • Typical sequences and the Asymptotic Equipartition Property (AEP). Consequences of the AEP: Data compression
  • Channel capacity & the noisy channel coding theorem

Channel Coding (7L)

  • Linear Block Codes
  • Convolutional Codes, Reed-Solomon Codes
  • LDPC codes and iterative decoding

Modulation Techniques and Wireless Communication (4L)

  • Modulation techniques and their performance over additive Gaussian noise channels
  • Modelling a wireless channel: the concept of fading
  • Combating fading with diversity in time/frequency/space

Further notes





Useful References

Information Theory

  • Elements of Information Theory, T. M. Cover & J. A. Thomas, Wiley-Interscience,2nd Ed. 2006
  • Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms, D. MacKay, Cambridge Univ. Press. (Available free online)
  • Information Theory and Reliable Communication, R. Gallager, John Wiley & Sons

Coding Theory

  • Modern Coding Theory, T. Richardson & R. Urbanke, Cambridge Univ. Press. (this books covers LDPC codes)
  • The Theory of Error-Correcting Codes, F. J. MacWilliams & N. J. A. Sloane, North Holland. (covers classical coding theory)

Wireless Communication

  • Fundamentals of Wireless Communication, D. Tse & P.Viswanath, Cambridge Univ. Press 2005. (Available free online)
  • Wireless Communications, A. Goldsmith, Cambridge Univ. Press 2005.

Please see the Booklist for Group F Courses for library holdings.


Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.


The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) describes the requirements that have to be met in order to become a Chartered Engineer, and gives examples of ways of doing this.

UK-SPEC is published by the Engineering Council on behalf of the UK engineering profession. The standard has been developed, and is regularly updated, by panels representing professional engineering institutions, employers and engineering educators. Of particular relevance here is the 'Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes' (AHEP) document which sets out the standard for degree accreditation.

The Output Standards Matrices indicate where each of the Output Criteria as specified in the AHEP 3rd edition document is addressed within the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Triposes.

Last modified: 27/08/2016 09:21