Introduction to Reed Solomon Codes: 

Henry Minsky, Universal Access Inc.

[For details see Cain, Clark, "Error-Correction Coding For Digital
Communications", pp. 205.] The Reed-Solomon Code is an algebraic code
belonging to the class of BCH (Bose-Chaudry-Hocquehen) multiple burst
correcting cyclic codes. The Reed Solomon code operates on bytes of
fixed length.

Given m parity bytes, a Reed-Solomon code can correct up to m byte
errors in known positions (erasures), or detect and correct up to m/2
byte errors in unknown positions.

This is an implementation of a Reed-Solomon code with 8 bit bytes, and
a configurable number of parity bytes.  The maximum sequence length
(codeword) that can be generated is 255 bytes, including parity bytes.
In practice, shorter sequences are used. 

ENCODING: The basic principle of encoding is to find the remainder of
the message divided by a generator polynomial G(x). The encoder works
by simulating a Linear Feedback Shift Register with degree equal to
G(x), and feedback taps with the coefficents of the generating
polynomial of the code.

The rs.c file contains an algorithm to generate the encoder polynomial
for any number of bytes of parity, configurable as the NPAR constant
in the file ecc.h.

For this RS code, G(x) = (x-a^1)(x-a^2)(x-a^3)(x-a^4)...(x-a^NPAR)
where 'a' is a primitive element of the Galois Field GF(256) (== 2).


[The below discussion references an example codeword which has four
check bytes.  The rscode program uses the parameter NPAR to set the
number of parity (check) bytes. You should substitute your value of
NPAR for 'four' in the discussion below]

The decoder generates four syndrome bytes, which will be all zero if
the message has no errors. If there are errors, the location and value
of the errors can be determined in a number of ways.

Computing the syndromes is easily done as a sum of products, see pp.
179 [Rhee 89].

Fundamentally, the syndome bytes form four simultaneous equations
which can be solved to find the error locations. Once error locations
are known, the syndrome bytes can be used to find the value of the
errors, and they can thus be corrected.

A simplified solution for locating and correcting single errors is
given in Cain and Clark, Ch. 5.

The more general error-location algorithm is the Berlekamp-Massey
algorithm, which will locate up to four errors, by iteratively solving
for the error-locator polynomial. The Modified Berlekamp Massey
algorithm takes as initial conditions any known suspicious bytes
(erasure flags) which you may have (such as might be flagged by
a laser demodulator, or deduced from a failure in a cross-interleaved
block code row or column).

Once the location of errors is known, error correction is done using
the error-evaluator polynomial.


As an example application, this library could be used to implement the
Compact Disc standard of 24 data bytes and 4 parity bytes. A RS code
with 24 data bytes and 4 parity bytes is referred to as a (28,24) RS
code.  A (n, k) RS code is said to have efficiency k/n. This first
(28,24) coding is called the C2 or level 2 encoding, because in a
doubly encoded scheme, the codewords are decoded at the second
decoding step.

In following the approach used by Compact Disc digital audio, the 28
byte C2 codewords are four way interleaved and then the interleaved
data is encoded again with a (32,28) RS code. The is the C1 encoding
stage. This produces what is known as a "product code", and has
excellent error correction capability due to the imposition of
two-dimensional structure on the parity checks. The interleave helps
to insure against the case that a multibyte burst error wipes out more
than two bytes in each codeword. The cross-correction capability of
the product code can provide backup if in fact there are more than 2
uncorrectable errors in a block.