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I like Coding Theory - Who Uses it?

  1. Nov 29, 2013 #1
    I am a math major, with several years of experience in the I.T. field. Mostly networking, technical support, server administration, etc. I have limited professional programming experience, though I can learn languages fairly quickly.

    I took a class in cryptography and coding theory as part of my major. It was a math heavy special topics offering in the math department. I thought I would find cryptography interesting, and oddly enough I didn't. I was surprised to learned however, that coding theory was really neat. I loved the relationship it had to linear and abstract algebra, and the obvious myriad of applications.

    So, who is it that might be looking for experts in this particular field?

    -Dave K
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2013 #2
    I also really enjoy coding theory; it comes up all over the place. Specifically in applications related to information theory.

    So it is often implemented into system level devices on a computer. Therefore, computer science type jobs use it.

    It is used in deep space communications. Communicating to a satellite far away in space can introduce noise into the response that needs to be fixed.

    Computer networking applications, for example if someone sends a message over a computer network, it could for instance be corrupted and need to be fixed at one of the networking layers.

    Another example I can think of is data compression. Reading a DVD/CD that has scratches on it that need to be fixed. Various file formats are compressed rar files, zip files, jpg image files, etc. lossless vs lossy compression algorithms, as well as Huffman encoding, and run length encoding. Anywhere where this might be a requirement, mostly computer science or electrical engineering jobs, I think you will find coding theory.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013
  4. Nov 29, 2013 #3

    Pythagorean

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    Its sometimes used in Computational Neuroscience :)

    But that's a discipline, not a company :/
     
  5. Nov 29, 2013 #4
    Yeah, I know the fields that it's used in. (Computational Neuroscience is one I'm really interested in actually. Are you saying our brains are error checking? Mine isn't...)

    But I'm wondering more what kind of role we're talking about specifically. What kind of job title are we talking about?
     
  6. Nov 29, 2013 #5

    Pythagorean

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    Well, they do do some kind of error correction, but that's not the main point of coding theory in the context of neural systems. It's more abstract: to figure out how neural assemblies code stimuli. It appears to me that the motivations are a little different. In engineering, you're trying to optimize to design. In biology, you're trying to understand a system that's already happened upon being made. You might envision neural coding as a kind of compression.

    I don't know if there's a "coding theory" guy though. I think coding theory is just something that's incorporated into modelling brain and neuron assembly simulators. The only companies out there that I know of are Braincorporation, Qualcomm, IBM's Blue Brain project. I'm sure there's more. You'd essentially be a scientific programmer or software engineer.
     
  7. Nov 29, 2013 #6
    This is a rather difficult question to answer. The fact of the matter is it will depend on where you work, seeing as coding theory is very specific, there are probably very few jobs doing coding theory specifically. They probably have variety of different titles I can imagine "systems software engineer" might be one possibility. You will likely have more job requirements then just doing coding theory all day. It will depend on what they want you to do.

    Most of the jobs probably fall under some umbrella classification similar to this: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm
     
  8. Nov 29, 2013 #7

    Pythagorean

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  9. Nov 30, 2013 #8

    collinsmark

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    Okay, I'll chime in.

    But let me preface this by saying there have been some incredible progress in the field of error control coding in the last 15-20 years or so. So much so that modern forward error correction codes are pretty darn close to Shannon's limit. So in my opinion, there isn't much room left for major breakthroughs that bring fame and glory like there was in times past. That said, there's still opportunity for incremental advancements with new and improved communication systems of the future. That's just my opinion though. Although that really doesn't answer your question.

    Any time a new communication systems is developed, there may be effort put into the error control coding that is designed specifically for that system, given the systems parameters such as available bandwidth, power constraints, acceptable latency, channel characteristics (AWGN vs. multipath fading, etc.) and maybe a few other things that I can't think of off the top of my head. And applications of such systems can be as simple as one gadget communicating with some other gadget (picture a flash drive communicating with a computer) or something more impressive like a new, deep space satellite communicating with Earth. If you do choose this path, realize that there are other engineers/mathematicians/information theorists that have been around awhile and want a piece of the action. So you may find some competition. Maybe instead of "competition" I should replace that word with "collaboration." Still, I feel that this doesn't really answer your question either. So now for the answer.

    So what uses coding theory? Answer: pretty much any modern piece of technology that communicates with any other piece of technology uses coding theory to some extent -- sometimes a lot. I guarantee you that whatever gadget it is that you are using to read this very post uses coding theory up the yin-yang.

    Everything from hard drives (HDD); solid state drives (SDD); flash drives; PCIe bus or any computer bus that allows communications between different parts of the computer such as the graphics processor and the CPU; USB; Bluetooth; CDs; DVDs; Blu-ray; wireless LAN (all permutations of IEEE 802.11); cable modems; DSL; satellite dish TV; all modern cell phone technologies such as CDMA, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, WiMAX, and LTE; low earth orbit satellites; geosynchronous satellites; and yes, deep space satellite communication systems, all utilize coding theory.

    Oh, and ISBN, the system used to uniquely distinguish a given book [yes, an old fashion paper book] from other books.

    So, there ya go. :smile:

    Given that you are able to do that, I can think of at least three, maybe up to four or five, ways that your gadget is using coding theory right now, allowing you to read this. :wink:

    [Edit: I suppose you were actually asking "who," not "what." As memory serves me, organizations such as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have made major contributions to the field of coding theory over the last several decades. Also, private companies such as Qualcomm, among others, have made advancements. (Qualcomm was co-founded by Andrew Viterbi, creater of the Viterbi algorithm, after all.) And of course a very large portion of the advancement of the field is done at universities by academia.]
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
  10. Nov 30, 2013 #9

    collinsmark

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    Also, at your academic library, find some recent periodicals of "IEEE Transactions on Information Theory." Within each submitted paper, there is a little blub, typically near the introduction, that states the university or private company associated with each of the authors. That gives you an idea of who's working on what.

    And if you'd like, you can always become an IEEE member. I think you'll also need to join the IEEE Information Theory society if you want to access the Information Theory transactions online. Keep in mind you get a huge discount on dues/fees of being an IEEE member if you are a student.
     
  11. Dec 1, 2013 #10

    jasonRF

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    Where I work engineers who work on communication systems at least need to understand the coding theory. On some projects they just need to pick a code; occasionally I hear about an interesting new code that is developed for a particular application. These engineers are typically PhDs in EE with information theory or communications specializations, but I know of one mathematician (has at least a masters in math) that does such work as well.

    jason
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2013
  12. Dec 1, 2013 #11
    My cryptography/coding textbook has a chapter on information theory that we did not cover in class. I also found it extremely interesting. I liked some of the overlap with language and such. So perhaps I am more broadly interested in information theory. This is helpful...Thanks!
     
  13. Dec 1, 2013 #12
    Can you tell me what type of company the mathematician works for? (You don't have to be too specific.)

    -Dave K
     
  14. Dec 1, 2013 #13
    Thanks so much!

    I'm not necessarily saying I want to be the guy that comes up with the "next big thing" in error correction, though of course, whatever I do, I will always be looking for ways to make things better. But I am sure there is a company somewhere who is looking for an expert in that field, who knows the mathematics behind it.

    Truth is, I am (mathematically) interested in so many things right now, so I'm trying to take the things I'm *really* interested in and see if I can't do something useful with them. An academic career would be ideal, but I'm getting a little old for entry there.

    -Dave K
     
  15. Apr 23, 2015 #14
    well, am not looking for experts, but some basic guidance and may be assistance. if at all you are still available.
     
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