Techniques for improving the finite length performance of sparse superposition codes

05 Dec 2017

Sparse superposition codes are a recent class of codes introduced by Barron and Joseph for efficient communication over the AWGN channel. With an appropriate power allocation, these codes have been shown to be asymptotically capacity-achieving with computationally feasible decoding. However, a direct implementation of the capacity-achieving construction does not give good finite length error performance. In this paper, we consider sparse superposition codes with approximate message passing (AMP) decoding, and describe a variety of techniques to improve their finite length performance. These include an iterative algorithm for SPARC power allocation, guidelines for choosing codebook parameters, and estimating a critical decoding parameter online instead of pre-computation. We also show how partial outer codes can be used in conjunction with AMP decoding to obtain a steep waterfall in the error performance curves. We compare the error performance of AMP-decoded sparse superposition codes with coded modulation using LDPC codes from the WiMAX standard.