Open Access

Low complexity soft demapping for non-binary LDPC codes

  • Alain Mourad1Email author,
  • Ottavio Picchi2,
  • Ismael Gutierrez1 and
  • Marco Luise2
EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking20122012:55

https://doi.org/10.1186/1687-1499-2012-55

Received: 27 April 2011

Accepted: 20 February 2012

Published: 20 February 2012

Abstract

This article focuses on non-binary wireless transmission, where "non-binary" refers to the use of non-binary Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) codes for Forward Error Correction. The complexity of the non-binary soft demapper is addressed in particular when one non-binary Galois Field (GF) symbol spreads across multiple Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) symbols and Space-Time Block Code (STBC) codewords. A strategy is devised to guarantee an efficient mapping at the transmitter, together with an algorithm at the receiver for low complexity soft Maximum Likelihood demapping. The proposed solution targets a trade-off between performance and complexity, and removes any restriction on the setting of the GF order, QAM constellation order, and STBC scheme. This makes the non-binary LDPC codes even more appealing for potential use in practical wireless communication systems.

Keywords

non-binaryLDPC codesmappingsoft valuesmaximum likelihoodMIMO

1. Introduction

Non-binary channel codes (i.e., defined over high-order Galois Field (GF) q > 2) have been researched in the literature to achieve higher error protection than conventional binary codes for transmission over different noisy channels [13]. More recently, the European FP7 DAVINCI project [4] has explored the design of innovative non-binary Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) codes with tailored link level technologies over wireless fading channels, whilst aiming at small added complexity to conventional binary receivers.

The DAVINCI project considers LDPC codes defined over a GF of order q = 64 (denoted as GF(64)). The proposed non-binary LDPC codes were shown to outperform their binary counterparts, e.g., binary LDPC and (duo-) binary Turbo Codes, with higher gains for higher constellation orders and higher coding rates [5]. Moreover, these non-binary codes were shown to boost the system spectral efficiency when combined with high-order Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) constellations and MIMO spatial multiplexing [6]. This boosting effect comes from the inherently higher capacity of the single-input single-output (SISO) equivalent channel as seen by the non-binary code with high-order constellations and multiple antennas [6, 7].

Complexity-wise, for high GF order, e.g., q = 64, some relatively low complexity LDPC decoding algorithms have been proposed in [8]. Now, if we consider mapping the encoded symbols onto QAM constellation symbols and Space-Time Block Code (STBC) codewords, the complexity of the soft demapper at the receiver turns out to represent a real challenge, especially when one GF symbol spreads across multiple QAM constellation symbols and STBC codewords. This can be seen for example in the simple case of GF order q = 64 with 16QAM constellation in SISO (single antenna) transmission, where two GF64 coded symbols (total of 2 × 6 = 12 bits) jointly map onto three 16QAM symbols (total of 3 × 4 = 12 bits). Thus, one of the three 16QAM symbols has to contain coded bits from two GF symbols. This spreading of the GF coded symbols across more than one QAM symbol drastically increases the complexity of the soft demapper, the latter already being more complex than in the binary case (q = 2). This complexity issue may become even more problematic in the mapping of GF coded symbols to STBC codewords. This is particularly true when one GF coded symbol does not fit into exactly one STBC codeword. In order to avoid such complexity, most of the recent studies have been restricted to the configurations where each GF symbol can be individually processed in its mapping onto QAM symbols and STBC codewords [5, 6]. This led in certain cases to non-practical assumptions, such as 3 × 3 antenna configuration for GF64 with Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (QPSK) and MIMO spatial multiplexing [6].

This article tackles the challenging complexity of the non-binary soft demapper when the GF symbol spreads across multiple QAM symbols and STBC codewords. The mappings at the transmitter and the soft demapping at the receiver are both considered with the aim to achieve the best trade-off between performance and complexity. A strategy is devised to guarantee an efficient mapping at the transmitter, together with an algorithm for low complexity soft demapping at the receiver. The proposed algorithm borrows a key finding in [8] which is by feeding the non-binary LDPC decoder with only a limited number of the highest A Posteriori Probability (APP) values for each GF symbol (with this limited number being much less than the GF order q) one can still achieve very close to the optimal performance whilst reducing significantly the non-binary LDPC decoding complexity and memory requirements.

The rest of the article is structured as follows. Section 2 describes the system model, and Section 3 follows with the problem statement. Section 4 presents the mapping and demapping solutions proposed. Section 5 shows numerical results to illustrate the performance and complexity of the proposed solutions. Finally, Section 6 draws our conclusions and suggests some perspectives for future work.

2. System model: non-binary wireless transmission

The key notations used throughout this article are listed in Table 1.
Table 1

Key notations used throughout the article

q

GF order (default value q = 64)

Ω

Alphabet of q GF symbols

M

QAM constellation order (e.g., QPSK → M = 4; 16QAM → M = 16)

A

Alphabet of M QAM constellation symbols

q m

Number of APP values per GF symbol fed to the decoder (< <q)

n t

Number of transmitter antennas

n r

Number of receiver antennas

Q

Number of QAM symbols mapped onto one STBC codeword

T

STBC block length (as expressed in MIMO channel uses)

m 1

Minimum integer number of GF(q) symbols which map onto m2 M-QAM symbols and m3 STBC codewords

n 1

Number of GF(q) symbols multiplexing within n2 (≤m2) M-QAM symbols and n3 (≤m3) STBC codewords, (n1m1)

m 2

Minimum integer number of M-QAM symbols which map to m1 GF(q) symbols and m3 STBC codewords

n 2

Number of M-QAM symbols carrying one GF(q) symbol, (n2m2)

m 3

Minimum integer number of STBC codewords which map to m1 GF(q) symbols and m2 M-QAM symbols

n 3

Number of STBC codewords carrying one GF(q) symbol, (n3m3)

A block diagram of the non-binary transmission chain is depicted in Figure 1. In the following, we first introduce the non-binary LDPC codec used, and then describe the functioning of the non-binary wireless transmission chain illustrated in Figure 1.
Figure 1

Block diagram of the transmission chain considered.

2.1 Non-binary LDPC codes

The non-binary LDPC codes used are taken directly from DAVINCI project [4]. These codes have been designed with a very sparse parity check matrix. The non-zero elements of the matrix are defined over a GF of order q = 64, denoted by Ω. The variable node degree is fixed to d v = 2 (optimal when q → ∞ and codeword length → ∞), whereas the check node degree d c is variable and adapted to the coding rate (i.e., d c = {4, 6, 8, 12} for rate = {1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 5/6}, respectively). The DAVINCI codes are obtained as regular LDPC codes over the GF Ω following the optimization process described in [9]. At the receiver side, we use a reduced complexity non-binary decoder based on the Extended Min-Sum algorithm proposed in [8] for practical hardware implementation of the DAVINCI codes. This low complexity decoder takes only the q m (q m < q) highest APP values out of the q - 1 values available at the output of the soft demapper. This truncation of the APP values at the input of the decoder reduces significantly the decoder complexity at the cost of slight performance degradation.

2.2 Non-binary wireless transmission chain

2.2.1 Transmitter operations

As illustrated in Figure 1, the binary information message issued from the source is first converted into non-binary GF(q) message by simply mapping groups of log2(q) bits onto their corresponding GF(q) images. The binary images are obtained from the primitive polynomial below used in the DAVINCI project to optimize the DAVINCI codes [4, 9]:
P x = x 6 + x + 1
(1)

Blocks of K GF(q) symbols are then passed to the non-binary LDPC encoder which generates the non-binary codeword of length N GF(q) symbols. In order then to map the non-binary Forward Error Correction (FEC) codeword onto the M-QAM constellation symbols, each of the GF(q) symbols in the FEC codeword is first converted back to its binary image of log2(q) bits (using the same primitive polynomial in (1)). The resulting binary stream is then passed to the Mapping module, which is in charge of mapping the GF(q) symbols onto the M-QAM constellation symbols and STBC codewords. As highlighted in Figure 1, the mapping function features a novel module referred to as intra-block permutation which permutes/re-arranges the bits (per block of m1 GF symbols) in the binary stream in accordance with three design rules devised in this article to achieve the trade-off between performance and complexity. Next to the intra-block permutation, each group of log2(M) adjacent bits of the permuted output stream is mapped onto one QAM constellation symbol. A conventional gray-mapping is used to produce the stream of complex-valued QAM symbols. The QAM symbols are then directly sent for transmission over the wireless multi-path fading channel in the context of a single antenna transmission.

In the context of multi-antenna transmission, the stream of QAM symbols undergoes a further step of spatial encoding represented by the STBC encoder depicted in Figure 1. The QAM symbols are arranged in groups of Q symbols, and each group is encoded by the STBC encoder resulting into a STBC codeword V j of nt × T complex symbols, with nt being the number of transmitter antennas and T the STBC block length. The spatial rate is then given by RS = Q/T. The output stream of the STBC encoder is then transmitted across the multiple antennas through the multi-path fading channel.

2.2.2 Receiver operations

At the receiver side, with single antenna (i.e., single output), the complex-valued received signal can be modeled as:
y = h x + v
(2)

where h is the channel fading, x the transmitted symbol per channel use, and v the background noise assumed to be complex-valued Gaussian distributed with zero mean and single-sided variance N0.

The received symbols are de-interleaved at the QAM level, and next fed into the soft demapper, which computes the APP values of all GF(q) symbols in the codeword. The computation of the APP values in the non-binary case is much heavier than in the case of binary transmission for two reasons: first, each GF(q) coded symbol calls for the computation of (q - 1) APP values, and second the computation of each APP value turns out to be particularly complicated whenever one GF(q) symbol is spread across different QAM symbols (see Section 3 for more details). The APP values are fed into the non-binary FEC decoder, and the decoded GF symbols are finally converted into bits to represent the received binary message.

The received signal model is slightly more complicated with nt × nr MIMO transmission.

The received STBC codeword W j of size nr × T is a linear transformation of the transmitted STBC codeword V j plus additive Gaussian noise ν j , as shown below:
W j = H j V j + ν j
(3)

where H j is an nr × nt complex matrix representing the MIMO frequency-flat channel coefficients for the j th STBC codeword V j .

The received STBC codewords are fed into the so-called Soft Maximum Likelihood (ML) demapper which combines the STBC ML detection and the APP computation. It is noteworthy here that sub-optimal linear equalizers may be considered for the STBC detection, which will then be followed in a second step by the APP computation for non-binary LDPC decoder. Such linear approach was compared to the soft ML demapper in [4, 10], where the latter was shown to significantly outperform the former. It is not in the scope of this article to reproduce such comparison, but rather focus on the complexity reduction of the soft ML demapper with the aim to make it practical for wireless communication systems.

3. Problem statement: mapping and Soft ML demapping

Figure 2 illustrates the different stages for mapping the GF(q) non-binary symbols onto the M-QAM constellation symbols, and later on onto the STBC codewords should MIMO transmission be considered.
Figure 2

Mapping of non-binary symbols onto QAM symbols and STBC input-words.

3.1 Mapping of GF(q) symbols onto M-QAM symbols

As suggested in [6], in order to ensure a bijective mapping between GF(q) and M-QAM symbols, we have to map a vector of m1 GF(q) symbols onto a vector of m2 M-QAM symbols, such that both vectors are of the same length as expressed in (coded) bits:
m 1 × log 2 q = m 2 × log 2 M
(4)
In [6], in order to minimize the complexity of the mapper and demapper, the parameters m1 and m2 are set to their minimum possible integer values in accordance with Equation (4). Assuming q = 64, Table 2 lists the values of m1 and m2 to be used with QPSK, 16QAM, and 64QAM constellations.
Table 2

Values of m1 and m2 for GF(64) to QAM mapping

Constellation

QPSK

16QAM

64QAM

( m 1 , m 2 )

(1, 3)

(2, 3)

(1, 1)

For example for QPSK, one GF(64) symbol maps onto three QPSK symbols. For 16QAM however, two GF(64) symbols will map onto three 16QAM symbols, and consequently two GF(64) symbols will be spread onto at least one 16QAM symbol. For 64QAM, the mapping is obviously one-to-one since both GF(64) and 64QAM symbols are represented by the same number of bits (= log2(64) = 6).

The mapping between GF(q) symbols and M-QAM symbols can be formulated as:
d n = d 0 n d m 1 - 1 n M a p p i n g μ . x n = x 0 n x m 2 - 1 n d = d 0 d N m 1 - 1 ; x = x 0 x N m 2 - 1
(5)

In the sequel, we consider only one vector d(n)and corresponding vector x(n), and omit the superscript index n for the sake of simplicity. Thus, d and x refer now to two vectors of lengths m1 and m2, respectively, associated by the mapping function μ(.). As illustrated in Figures 1 and 2, the mapping function μ(.) features a novel component introduced in this article which is the so-called "intra-block permutation". In this component, the bits in the binary image of the vector of m1 GF(q) symbols are permuted (re-arranged) in accordance with the design rules proposed in Section 3.1. This is with the aim to achieve the best trade-off between performance and complexity.

At the receiver side, the soft demapper computes q - 1 APP values for each GF(q) coded symbol. For a memoryless SISO channel and assuming all GF(q) coded symbols are equiprobable, we can write the k th (k = 0...q - 1) APP value for the i th (i = 0...m1 - 1) GF(q) coded symbol in the vector d of m1 GF(q) symbols mapped onto the vector x of m2 QAM symbols as [6]:
λ i , k = ln d Δ i k exp - 1 N 0 j = 0 m 2 - 1 y j - h j μ j d 2 d Δ i 0 exp - 1 N 0 j = 0 m 2 - 1 y j - h j μ j d 2
(6)

where y j = h j x j + ν j is the j th received symbol given in (2), h j is the corresponding equivalent channel coefficient (that we assume perfectly known), x j = μ j (d) the j th entry in the vector x of m2 QAM symbols mapping onto the vector d of m1 GF(q) symbols, and ν j the noise term. The set Δ i k includes all configurations of vector d with i th component d i = α k , where α k denotes the k th entry in the GF Ω. The cardinality of Δ i k is clearly equal to qm 1-1.

The computational complexity of the soft demapper is of a magnitude order O((q - 1) × qm 1-1× m2) per GF symbol. This reflects an exponential growth with the GF order q whenever the minimum number m1 of GF(q) symbols that are spread onto M-QAM symbols is strictly greater than 1 (m1 > 1). This is the case with 16QAM as given in Table 2.

3.2 Mapping of GF(q) symbols onto STBC codewords

With MIMO transmission, a number Q of M-QAM constellation symbols (equal to one input word to the STBC encoder which outputs once corresponding STBC codeword) are encoded together and transmitted across nt transmitter antennas during T transmission intervals (also known as MIMO channels uses). Thus, similarly to (4), we have to map here the original vector of m1 GF(q) symbols (mapping onto the vector of m2 M-QAM symbols) onto a third vector of m3 STBC codewords, such that all three vectors are of the same length in bits:
m 1 × log 2 q = m 2 × log 2 M = m 3 × Q × log 2 M
(7)
The parameters m1, m2, and m3 should be set to their minimum possible integer values in accordance with Equation (7). Assuming q = 64, STBC codeword size Q = 2, Table 3 gives the values of m1, m2, and m3, with QPSK, 16QAM, and 64QAM constellations.
Table 3

Values of m1, m2, and m3 for GF(64) to MIMO (Q = 2) mapping

Constellation

QPSK

16QAM

64QAM

( m 1 , m 2 , m 3 )

(2, 6, 3)

(4, 6, 3)

(2, 2, 1)

Compared to Table 2, the values of m1 and m2 in Table 3 are simply doubled as a result of MIMO transmission with Q = 2. For a memoryless MIMO channel, we can write the k th (k = 0...q - 1) APP value (assuming the to use Log-MAP) for the i th (i = 0...m1 - 1) GF(q) coded symbol in the vector d of m1 GF(q) symbols mapped onto the vector of m2 QAM symbols (equivalent to m3 STBC codewords) as
λ i , k = ln d Δ i k exp - 1 N 0 j = 0 n 3 - 1 W j - H j S M μ d F 2 d Δ i 0 exp - 1 N 0 j = 0 n 3 - 1 W j - H j S M μ d F 2
(8)

where SM(.) denotes the MIMO encoder operation, which encodes the stream of QAM symbols into STBC codewords, and . . F is the Frobenius norm. The parameter n3 is defined in Table 1 as the number of STBC codewords carrying one GF(q) symbol (n3m3). The value of n3 may then vary from one GF symbol to another in the vector of m1 GF symbols and therefore depends on the index i of the GF(q) symbol. The vector d may thus have different bit lengths depending on whether n3 is equal to or greater than 1. Furthermore, in order to minimize the computational weight of the APP extraction, we can exploit the max-Log-MAP, so that (8) becomes the difference between the maximum sum at the numerator and the maximum sum at the denominator.

Taking into account the inherent matrix multiplication required to compute the distance between STBC codewords V j and W j (cf. (3)), the computation complexity of the soft demapper becomes of the magnitude order O((q - 1) × qm 1-1× m3 × n r × Q × T). When m1 > 1 different GF(q) are spread into different STBC codewords, and this occurs here for any constellation, unlike the SISO case where it only occurs for 16QAM constellation (cf. Table 2). This emphasizes how problematic the complexity of the soft demapper may become with MIMO transmission, even with simple practical configurations (e.g., Q = 2). The main problem tackled in this article is the reduction of the complexity of the soft demapper when one GF(q) symbol spreads across different QAM symbols and STBC codewords (i.e., m1 > 1), without sacrificing the error protection performance.

4. Novel mapping strategy and low complexity soft demapping

Our solution to the problem stated above consists of a mapping strategy at the transmitter side together with an algorithm for low complexity soft demapping when one GF(q) symbol spreads across different QAM symbols and STBC codewords (i.e. m1 > 1).

4.1 Mapping strategy at the transmitter

Three rules are introduced hereafter with the aim to achieve the best trade-off between error protection performance and soft demapper complexity.

First rule: The I or Q component of an M-QAM symbol should carry (in part or in full) the binary image of only one GF(q) symbol

This rule naturally applies to the particular case of m1 = 1, and can always be met whenever the number of bits per GF(q) symbol log2(q) is an integer multiple of the number of bits per I or Q component log2(M)/2. Otherwise, the rule requires mapping as many I and Q components as possible to binary parts issued from the binary image of only one single GF symbol. This ensures better performance compared to all other schemes not obeying to this rule, as will be proven in Section 5.

Assuming SISO 16QAM with m1 = 2 and m2 = 3, Table 4 gives four possible patterns to map the two GF(64) symbols a and b with binary images respectively, a0a1a2a3a4a5 and b0b1b2b3b4b5, onto the three 16QAM symbols with I and Q components, I0Q0, I1Q1, and I2Q2. Amongst the four patterns shown in Table 4, only P1 and P3 obey the first rule.
Table 4

Example of four patterns for mapping GF(64) symbols to 16-QAM symbols

Number

Mapping pattern (m1 = 2, m2 = 3)

 

I0

Q0

I1

Q1

I2

Q2

P1

a 0 a 1

a 2 a 3

a 4 a 5

b 0 b 1

b 2 b 3

b 4 b 5

P2

a 0 b 0

a 1 b 1

a 2 b 2

a 3 b 3

a 4 b 4

a 5 b 5

P3

a 0 a 1

b 0 b 1

a 2 a 3

b 2 b 3

a 4 a 5

b 4 b 5

P4

a 0 b 0

b 1 a 1

a 2 b 2

b 3 a 3

a 4 b 4

b 5 a 5

Second rule: Map as many I/Q components as possible issued from the same GF(q) symbol onto the same STBC codeword

This will ensure a minimum number (n3m3) of STBC codewords to be considered by the soft demapper for the computation of the APP values of each GF(q) symbol, and so will contribute to the reduction of the complexity of soft ML demapping as proposed in Section 4.2, but to the detriment of limiting the maximum channel selectivity that can be achieved within one GF(q) symbol. This is because ideally by letting each I or Q component issued from one GF(q) symbol map onto different STBC codewords, we create higher chance for these parts of the same GF(q) symbol to experience uncorrelated channel fading. This rule clearly restricts the freedom to let the GF(q) symbol enjoy higher channel selectivity, but fortunately has the advantage of reducing drastically the complexity of the soft ML demapper. This is where the complexity of the soft ML demapper is traded off with the error protection performance of the GF(q) symbols.

Third rule: Under the constraint of the second rule, map the I/Q components issued from one GF(q) symbol onto the transmission units ideally of independent channel fading within the STBC codeword carrying this GF(q) symbol

This rule obviously targets the maximum achievable channel selectivity (i.e., number of independent channel fading) within each GF(q) symbol under the constraint of the second rule. The higher the channel selectivity within one GF(q) symbol is (i.e., the number of independent channel fading affecting the different parts of the GF(q) symbol), the better the error protection performance is expected to be. The margin for this rule to achieve higher channel selectivity order is clearly bound by the second rule.

For example, in the case of MIMO uncoded spatial multiplexing (Q = 2) and 16QAM where m1 = 4, m2 = 6, and m3 = 3 (cf. Table 3), we give in Table 5 three possible patterns for mapping the four GF(64) symbols, a, b, c, and d, of binary images, respectively, a0a1a2a3a4a5, b0b1b2b3b4b5, c0c1c2c3c4c5, d0d1d2d3d4d5, onto the six 16-QAM symbols representing three STBC codewords. Each STBC codeword carries Q = 2 16QAM symbols concurrently transmitted over 2 antennas.
Table 5

Example of three patterns for mapping GF(64) symbols to STBC codewords

Number

Antenna number

Mapping pattern (m1 = 4, m2 = 6, m3 = 3)

  

I0

Q0

I1

Q1

I2

Q2

P1

A#1

a 0 a 1

a 2 a 3

b 2 b 3

b 4 b 5

c 4 c 5

d 0 d 1

 

A#2

a 4 a 5

b 0 b 1

c 0 c 1

c 2 c 3

d 2 d 3

d 4 d 5

P2

A#1

a 0 a 1

b 0 b 1

a 2 a 3

b 2 b 3

a 4 a 5

b 4 b 5

 

A#2

c 0 c 1

d 0 d 1

c 2 c 3

d 2 d 3

c 4 c 5

d 4 d 5

P3

A#1

a 0 a 1

a 2 a 3

b 2 b 3

c 0 c 1

c 4 c 5

d 0 d 1

 

A#2

a 4 a 5

b 0 b 1

b 4 b 5

c 2 c 3

d 2 d 3

d 4 d 5

All three patterns in Table 5 follow the first rule by not mixing bits from different GF symbols into the same I or Q component.

Patterns P1 and P3 further obey the second rule by mapping as many I/Q components from the same GF symbol as possible into the same STBC codeword, whilst Pattern P2 does not. For patterns P1 and P3, GF(64) symbols a and d are carried within one single STBC codeword, and GF(64) symbols b and c are mapped onto two STBC codewords. However, for pattern P2, each GF(64) symbol is spread out over all of the m3 = 3 STBC codewords. In terms of complexity of the soft demapper, patterns P1 and P3 will enable reduced complexity, whereas the complexity with pattern P2 will be drastically higher, as shown later in Section 4.2.

Now with regard to the third rule, the channel selectivity order (i.e., maximum number of independent channel fading) for pattern P1 is equal to 2 for all GF symbols, a, b, c, and d. This is clear since any of these GF symbols is mapped onto exactly two QAM symbols within only one single STBC codeword, with the first QAM symbol transmitted on the first antenna port and the second QAM symbol transmistted on the second antenna port. For pattern P2 however, the channel selectivity order is higher and equal to 3, since any GF symbol is mapped onto exactly three QAM symbols transmitted within three different STBC codewords, hence ideally subject to three independent channel fading. The last pattern P3 has its channel selectivity order equal to 2 for the edge symbols a and d (since carried in two QAM symbols within one single STBC codeword), whereas it is equal to 3 for the middle symbols b and c (since these are carried in two QAM symbols within two STBC codewords). Amongst all three patterns, only P1 and P3 respect the second rule, but only P3 which further respects the third rule as it attempts to achieve the highest possible channel selectivity order under the constraint of the second rule.

In summary, by obeying all the three rules introduced above, we aim to obtain mapping patterns which ensure the best trade-off between performance and complexity. This will be further detailed and proven in Sections 4.2 and 5.

4.2 Low complexity soft demapping at the receiver

As highlighted in Equation (6), the soft demapper at the receiver requires two major steps for the computation of the APP values of the GF(q) coded symbols: (i) Euclidean distances computation, and (ii) Marginalization across all possible combinations. The Euclidean distances computation is typically required for ML hard detector. In our case, since soft values are required, the MIMO ML detection and non-binary soft demapping are combined together into one single function, referred to as soft ML demapping.

First step: Computation of the Euclidean distances

In the decoding of STBC, each received STBC codeword W j is processed individually in order to obtain its distance to all possible transmitted STBC codewords V j . In our non-binary case (q > 2), one GF(q) coded symbol may span more than one STBC codeword. Thus, for the computation of the APP values of one GF(q) symbol, there is a need to store the Euclidean distances of all of the STBC codewords which carry the binary image of the given GF(q) symbol. Thanks to our second rule in the design of the mapper at the transmitter (which limits the number of STBC codewords carrying the binary image of one GF(q) symbol to the minimum possible), only the Euclidean distances of n3m3 STBC codewords are needed. This clearly reduces the memory requirements at the receiver.

Second step: Marginalization across all possible combinations

The marginalization takes the form of a summation in the general case (i.e.. log-Map) reflected in Equation (6). Should the Max-log approximation be used, it takes instead the form of a comparison. The marginalization (or summation) involves the Euclidean distances of n3m3 STBC codewords and the binary sub-parts of the n1 - 1 (n1m1) GF(q) symbols multiplexing with the binary image of the desired GF(q) symbol in their mapping to the n2m2 M-QAM symbols and n3m3 STBC codewords.

For the sake of simplicity, let us consider first the case where n3 = 1, i.e., the desired GF(q) symbol is mapped onto a single STBC codeword. This is the case of SISO transmission but also applies for instance to MIMO transmission for the edge GF(q) symbols a and d in patterns P1 and P3 in Table 5. Let us focus first on the simple case of SISO transmission with 16QAM as in Table 4 with the straightforward mapping P1 = [a0a1a2a3]; [a4a5b0b1]; [b2b3b4b5]; for m1 = 2 and m2 = 3. In order to compute the APP values for the first GF(64) symbol a, the Euclidean distances involving the first n2 = 2 ≤ 3 QAM symbols are required. For the second GF(64) symbol b, those involving the second and the third QAM symbols are required. For the computation of the APP values of a, a marginalization is required across all of the possible combinations of the sub-part b0b1 from GF(64) symbol b due to their mix with the sub-part a4a5 in the second QAM symbol (i.e., [a4a5b0b1]). The number of all possible combinations is clearly equal to 22 = 4. The number of operations per received GF symbol is (q - 1) × 22 × 3, a factor 22/qm 1-1= 4/64 = 1/16 smaller than the value O((q - 1) × qm 1-1× m2) indicated earlier in Section 3.1. Thanks to the specific mapping where the two edge 16QAM symbols carry information from only one single GF(64) symbol. Similar marginalization is required in the second case of MIMO transmission for the edge GF(q) symbols a and d in patterns P1 and P3 in Table 5.

Consider now the more general case of n3 > 1, for example in the case of MIMO transmission for the middle GF(64) symbols b and c in patterns P1 and P3 in Table 5 the GF(64) symbol b is mapped onto the first (= [a0a1a2a3a4a5b0b1]) and second (= [b2b3b4b5c0c1c2c3]) STBC codewords. The marginalization here is required across all the possible combinations of a0a1a2a3a4a5 due to the mix with the sub-part b0b1 in the first STBC codeword, and also across all of the possible combinations of c0c1c2c3 due to the mix with the sub-part b2b3b4b5 in the second STBC codeword. This adds up to the total of 26 × 24 = 1024 combinations per APP value. Demapping complexity clearly depends on the mapping pattern used. Table 6 gives an example of the number of distances required for marginalization of each APP value for the two mapping patterns P2 and P3 from Table 5.
Table 6

Example of number of combinations to be considered for APP marginalization

Number of combinations

P2

P3

GF(64) symbol a

qm 1-1= 262144

22 = 4

GF(64) symbol b

 

26 × 24 = 1024

GF(64) symbol c

 

24 × 26 = 1024

GF(64) symbol d

 

22 = 4

Table 6 reflects the huge complexity incurred with mapping pattern P2 (although as said earlier, this pattern achieves the maximum transmit diversity order 3 for all the GF(64) symbols). This confirms the tremendous complexity advantage of the mapping patterns respecting the second rule devised previously. Yet, whilst only 4 combinations are required for the edge symbols a and d, 1024 combinations are required for the symbols in the middle b and c, which is still relatively a high number.

Still, 1024 is a relatively large number causing excessive complexity. To further reduce the number of combinations to a relatively low level, we propose the following algorithm which exploits the correlation existing between GF(q) symbols produced by the code. The algorithm introduces a threshold parameter called N m . The algorithm proceeds with the following steps:

  • Step 1: Set the value of N m . For example, N m is set to the value 8.

  • Step 2: For any GF(q) symbol entailing a number N e of combinations required for marginalization lower than the threshold N m , obtain the corresponding APP values using an exhaustive search over all N e required combinations.

Example: This applies to the edge symbols a and d in P1 and P3 in Table 5, where the number of combinations required is N e = 4 < N m = 8.

  • Step 3: For GF(q) symbols that multiplex only with symbols falling under step 2, compute the APPs by limiting the combinations associated with the GF(q) symbol from step 2 only to the ones yielding the N m largest APPs for this symbol.

Example: Assume we are transmitting three consecutive GF(256)*symbols α, β, and γ mapped onto two consecutive 64-QAM STBC codewords. Then symbols α and γ fall under Step 2, while the APPs for β have to be computed as above. Assuming N m = 16, then the marginalization over α and β will be carried out by considering only N m · N m = 256 terms instead of the 256 · 256 = 65536 terms in the exhaustive search.

*NB: Switching to GF(256) in this example is simply because no such case occurs with our default GF(64).

  • Step 4: For each remaining GF(q) symbol, not falling under steps 2 and 3, proceed with the following sub-steps:

Step 4.1: Limit the combinations associated with the multiplexing GF(q) symbol from step 2 to the ones yielding the N m maximum APP values for this multiplexing symbol.

Step 4.2: Complete the marginalization of the APPs with respect to the adjacent GF(q) symbol whose APPs are still unavailable with an iterative procedure for a number r of iterations and depending on a parameter N q . At i th iteration, the marginalization runs across the N q combinations of the interleaved symbol with the highest N q APP values. Such combinations are those computed in the previous i - 1 iteration of the algorithm. At the initialization stage, the N q combinations are chosen randomly.

Example: Step 4.1 applies to the middle GF(q) symbol b in P1 and P3 in Table 5, where marginalization is required across the interleaved edge GF(q) symbol a. The APP values of the edge symbol a are obtained from step 2. Thus, instead of searching over all the 26 = 64 possible values of symbol a, we only limit the search to the N m = 8 values of symbol a yielding the highest APP values (thus 8 highest likelihood values). Step 4.2 applies to the middle GF(q) symbol b in P1 and P3 in Table 5, where marginalization is required across the interleaved other middle GF(q) symbol c, whose APP values are not available from step 2. We start considering N q = 8 randomly selected APP values for symbol c (out of the 24 = 16 values theoretically needed) to obtain the (marginalized) APP values of symbol b. Then, we compute the APP values for symbols b and c, with the marginalization limited to the N q random values of each. We refine then the choice of the N q combinations used for marginalization to the ones yielding the highest N q APP values for symbols b and c. This is repeated for r iterations.

The above algorithm may better be illustrated with the graph depicted in Figure 3, where the nodes represent the computation of the APP values for each GF symbol, and the arrows indicate the propagation of the most likely combinations of one GF symbol at a given node to the GF symbol at an adjacent node. This for the purpose of reduced marginalization according the different steps described in the above algorithm. The edge symbols a and d fall under step 2 and will therefore get their APP values available simply from step 2. The middle symbols b and c make use of N m most likely combinations yielding the highest APP values for the eddge GF symbols a and d, respectively. The propagation of these combinations is illustrated in Figure 3 by the arrows coming into nodes b (from node a) and c (from node·d). Since symbols b and c multiplex together, then an iterative process as described in step 4.2 is followed by reusing the N q most likely combinations of one symbol for marginalization to obtain the APP values of the adjacent symbol. This exchange of N q combinations between GF symbols b and c is illustrasted in the graph by the arrows connecting nodes b to c. Although in the example the same value (equal to 8) is set for both numbers N m and N q , this does not reflect the general case where these two variables can be set with different values.
Figure 3

Low complexity algorithm for soft demapping with m 1 = 4.

The introduction of the variables N m and N q taking values much lower than the total number q of the APP values is mainly inspired from the work originally done by the authors in [8, 11] in their contribution to the FP7 DAVINCI project [4]. The authors of [8, 11] have conducted a thorough analysis of the behavior of the non-binary LDPC decoder specifically in term of the APP distribution of the GF symbols at the input of the LDPC decoder. The main motivation in [8] is the proposal of sub-optimal LDPC decoding algorithm of reduced complexity and less memory requirements for real implementation. A key result found in [8, 11] is that by feeding the non-binary LDPC decoder with only a limited number N m of the highest APP values for each GF symbol (with N m much less than the GF order q) achieves very close to the optimal performance whilst reducing significantly the non-binary LDPC decoding complexity and APP memory requirements. This finding is borrowed in our algorithm above to reduce the complexity challenge of the soft ML demapper.

Table 7 reports the number of combinations to be explored for extracting the q-ary APP values of each GF(64) symbol first without the low complexity algorithm and then for two settings of the low complexity algorithm. When the low complexity algorithm is selected, GF(64) symbols b and c require first a number of operations for sorting the APP values of GF(64) symbols a and d, respectively. The implemented algorithm, which is based on Merge and Sort approach, has a complexity of n·log(n) (with n being the length of the vector to sort). The proposed algorithm reduces the number of combinations used for marginalization to obtain the APP values of the middle symbols b and c by a factor of approximately 7.5 without iterations, and a factor of approximately 10 with 3 iterations. The impact of the proposed algorithm on the error performance is assessed in Section 5.
Table 7

Example of reduction of the number combinations for P1 and P3 from Table 6

Number of combinations

Without the algorithm

Prop. Algorithm with r= 0, N m = 8

Prop. algorithm with r= 3, N m = 8, N q = 8

GF(64) symbol a

64 × 22 = 256

64 × 22 = 256

64 × 22 = 256

GF(64) symbol b

64 × 26 × 24 = 65536

64 × 6 + 64 × N m × 24 = 8576

64 × 3 × N m × N q + 2 × 64 × 6 = 13056

GF(64) symbol c

64 × 26 × 24 = 65536

64 × 6 + 64 × N m × 24 = 8576

 

GF(64) symbol d

64 × 22 = 256

64 × 22 = 256

64 × 22 = 256

Block of m1 GF symbols

64 × 2 × (210 + 22) = 131584

2 × 64 × (22 + 6 + N m × 24) = 17664

2 × 64 × (22 + 6) + 64 × 3 × N m × N q = 13568

5. Numerical results

Table 8 summarizes the simulation set up that was used to derive performance results. Both a SISO and a MIMO scenario are considered as representative of next generation cellular communication systems.
Table 8

Simulations set up

Modules

Set up

FEC encoder

DAVINCI NB-LDPC codes

 

GF order = 64

 

Codeword length = 96 symbols = 576 bits

FEC decoder

Extended Min-Sum algorithm

 

Number of soft values per symbol fed to the decoder = q m = 16 (highest values)

 

Maximum number of decoding iterations = 30

Constellation

QPSK, 16QAM, 64QAM

MIMO encoder

2 × 2 antennas configuration

 

Uncoded Spatial multiplexing

 

STBC codeword length Q = 2

Channel model

AWGN and Rayleigh channels

Soft demapper

Soft ML demapping

 

Proposed low complexity algorithm with N m = 8, N q = 4 to 16, number of demapping iterations r = 0 to 3

Figure 4 depicts the Frame Error Rate (FER) results obtained in the SISO scenario using two different patterns to map the GF(64) symbols onto QAM constellation symbols. The first mapping is an arbitrary mapping which does not respect the first rule devised in our solution, whereas the second mapping referred to as optimum mapping does.
Figure 4

Frame Error Rate for QPSK, 16QAM and 64QAM, N = 96, code rate 1/2, AWGN and Rayleigh channel.

As illustrated in Figure 4, for QPSK and 64QAM, where m1 = 1 (cf. Table 2), there is no significant difference between the arbitrary and the proposed mapping patterns, since inherently here only one GF(64) symbol maps onto three QPSK symbols or one 64QAM symbol. However, for 16QAM, where m1 = 2 and m2 = 3 (cf. Table 2), two GF(64) symbols are mapped onto the same mapping onto one 16QAM symbol, and here the results show clear SNR gain of 0.5 dB for the mapping respecting the first design rule as compared to a pattern not respecting this rule, hence validating the merits of this rule. It is noteworthy here that at this stage, there is no issue of trade-off between performance and complexity (this will come later when considering the second and third design rules proposed).

We then move to the MIMO context in order to validate the second and third rules introduced in our mapping strategy, which aim to achieve a trade-off between performance and complexity. First we analyze the complexity in terms of number of operations of the APP extraction. Specifically, with the term operation we refer to a summation or a comparison of real-valued numbers, so either the summation or comparison operation has the same computational weight. We consider first the case of 16QAM with the three patterns given in Table 5, where patterns P1 and P3 respect the second rule, but not pattern P2. Figure 5 depicts the number of operations required for marginalization in the computation of the APP values of the m1 = 4 GF(64) symbols which map together onto m2 = 6 QAM symbols and m3 = 3 STBC codewords. Four curves show the number of operations (in logarithm scale) as a function of the threshold N m introduced in the proposed algorithm. The curves are as follows:
Figure 5

Number of operations required for marginalization with and without the proposed low complexity algorithm.

  • The first curve in black circular marker gives the number of operations when an exhaustive search with pattern P2 is performed.

  • The second curve in red circular marker gives the number of operations when an exhaustive search with pattern P1 or P3 is performed.

  • The third curve in blue downwards triangular marker shows the number of operations using the proposed algorithm without the iterative step 4 (i.e., simply replace sub-step 4.2 by an exhaustive search).

  • The fourth curve in green with diamond markers considers the iterative step 4 of the proposed algorithm with r = 3 iterations and N q = 10.

From Figure 5, we can first clearly appreciate the huge reduction in complexity (cf. gap between first curve using P2, and the other curves using P1 and P3). This clearly validates the merit of our second rule from the complexity perspective, where patterns P1 and P3 respect this second rule, but not pattern P2. Moreover, from Figure 5, we can also clearly appreciate the significant reduction in complexity (cf. gap between second curve, and third and fourth curves) brought by the use of the proposed algorithm (with and without iterations) as compared to the exhaustive search. The reduction in complexity clearly decreases when increasing the threshold N m . For a typical value of N m = 8, we can appreciate nearly one decay (i.e., a factor of 10) complexity reduction; thanks to the proposed algorithm.

The second aspect to be assessed here is the impact of the proposed mapping strategy and demapping algorithm on the error protection performance. This is illustrated in Figure 6, for patterns P1 and P3 with different configurations. It is worth noting here that the pattern P2 could not be evaluated since its breach of the second rule makes it non practical for computer simulations. Our reference curves are the ones in red solid line which perform an exhaustive search (i.e., do not implement the proposed algorithm). In this figure, square marker is used for mapping pattern P1, and circular marker for mapping pattern P3.
Figure 6

Frame Error Rate for 16QAM with patterns P1 and P3 from Table 5.

From Figure 6, we first compare the performance gap between patterns P1 and P3 with the exhaustive search used in both. This is in order to appreciate the trade-off in performance due to the second rule and the merits of the third rule. The performance gap between P1 and P3 is almost 0.25 dB, when P1 has a constant channel selectivity order equal to 2 and P3 has an average channel selectivity order equal to 2.5 (it is equal to 2 at the edge symbols and 3 at the middle symbols). As mentioned previously, both patterns P1 and P3 respect the second rule, but only P3 respects the third rule. Hence, from this comparison, the merit of the third rule is clearly appreciated (approximately 0.25 dB SNR gain) at the same level of complexity. The same performance gap is expected between patterns P2 and P3 (although as said before simulations with pattern P2 are not feasible since it breaches the second rule). This expectation is motivated by the fact that the gap in channel selectivity order between P2 and P3 is equal to 0.5, which is the same gap between P3 and P1 (PS: the average channel selectivity order is equal to 3, 2.5, and 2, respectively, for patterns P2, P3, and P1). Hence, the penalty in performance of the second design rule is expected to be around 0.25 dB, compared to a pattern P3 respecting the second and third design rules, and 0.5 dB compared to a pattern P1 respecting the second rule but not the third rule.

Now let us compare the performance of both patterns P1 and P3 when using the proposed soft demapping algorithm. From Figure 6, for both patterns P1 and P3, we do not notice any appreciable degradation when using the proposed algorithm with threshold N m = 8, and without using the iterative process, compared to when using the exhaustive search. This is an important result as it shows the potential of the proposed algorithm to reduce the complexity by tenfold without practical degradation in the FER performance. Further reduction of the complexity by means of the iterative process for example, does degrade the FER performance. The degradation of the iterative process in the waterfall region at target FER of 10-2 appears tolerable (up to 0.5 dB), whilst the degradation in the error floor region appears significant. This reflects the trade-off someone can obtain between FER performance and further reduction of the complexity with the iterative process.

Further analysis was carried out for the case of MIMO 64QAM. In such a case, we consider two different mapping patterns as illustrated in Table 9.
Table 9

Used patterns for mapping GF(64) symbols to STBC codewords (64QAM)

Number

Antenna number

Mapping pattern (m1 = 2, m2 = 2, m3 = 1)

  

I0

Q0

P1

A#1

a 0 a 1 a 2

a 3 a 4 a 5

 

A#2

b 0 b 1 b 2

b 3 b 4 b 5

P2

A#1

a 0 a 1 a 2

b 0 b 1 b 2

 

A#2

a 3 a 4 a 5

b 3 b 4 b 5

Both P1 and P2 respect the first and second rule, but only P2 respects the third rule. With 64QAM, the proposed algorithm must necessarily use the iterative process, since there are no edge symbols falling under step 2 of the proposed algorithm. Similarly to the 16QAM case, the sorting of the APP values should be taken into account in the computation of the complexity. Table 10 shows a complexity reduction of 35% with respect to the exhaustive search when N q is equal to 24 and 44% when N q is equal to 20.
Table 10

Example of reduction of the number combinations for 64QAM

Number of combinations

Without the algorithm

Prop. algorithm with r= 3, N q = 20

Prop. algorithm with r= 3, N q = 24

GF(64) symbol a

64 × 26 = 4096

64 × 3 × N q + 2 × 64 × 6 = 4608

64 × 3 × N q + 2 × 64 × 6 = 5376

GF(64) symbol b

64 × 26 = 4096

  

Block of m1 GF symbols

2 × 64 × (26) = 8192

64 × 3 × N q + 2 × 64 × 6 = 4608

64 × 3 × N q + 2 × 64 × 6 = 5376

Figure 7 also shows the FER performance results for both patterns with and without the proposed algorithm in the configurations given in Table 10. A circle marker is used for the curves with pattern P1 and square marker for the curves with pattern P2.
Figure 7

Frame Error Rate for 64QAM with patterns P1 and P2 from Table 9.

From Figure 7, we can first appreciate a gain of nearly 0.8 dB for pattern P2 as compared to P1. This confirms further the potential of the third rule in achieving much higher diversity. Second, with pattern P2, we can clearly appreciate a slight degradation in performance nearly 0.2 dB when using the proposed low complexity iterative demapping algorithm with N q = 24 (35% complexity reduction). The degradation becomes higher 0.5 dB for N q = 20 (44% complexity reduction). So clearly, there is a trade-off between the tolerable FER performance degradation and the target complexity reduction, and the proposed mapping strategy and low complexity demapping algorithm provide the tools to achieve the trade-off desired.

6. Conclusions

In this article, we have addressed the particular complexity challenge of the soft ML demapping faced with non-binary LDPC codes when one GF(q) symbol spreads across multiple QAM symbols and STBC codewords. A solution is proposed combining a mapping strategy based on three design rules at the transmitter, and a low complexity soft ML demapping algorithm at the receiver.

At the transmitter side, the mapping strategy introduced three design rules to achieve the best trade-off between performance and complexity. In the first rule, the I or Q component of an M-QAM symbol should carry (in part or in full) the binary image of only one GF(q) symbol. This rule was shown to bring an SNR performance gain of approximately 0.5 dB compared to mapping patterns not respecting this rule. In the second rule, the I/Q components issued from one GF(q) symbol are carried into the minimum possible number of STBC codewords. This second rule clearly restricts the freedom to let the GF(q) symbol enjoy higher channel selectivity, but fortunately has the advantage of reducing drastically the complexity of the soft ML demapper. In the third rule, the I/Q components issued from one GF(q) symbol are mapped onto the transmission units which ideally can experience independent channel fading within the STBC codeword carrying this GF(q) symbol. This third rule aims at exploiting the last degree of freedom left by the binding second rule to achieve high channel selectivity within the GF(q) symbol. With mapping patterns respecting the second rule, it was shown that a tenfold complexity reduction can be achieved compared to patterns not respecting this second rule. The trade-off in performance was shown to be small, 0.25 and 0.5 dB performance degradation for the patterns respecting the second rule with and without the third rule, respectively.

At the receiver side, an algorithm was proposed to reduce the complexity of the soft ML demapper. The algorithm exploits the correlation existing between GF(q) symbols but also any knowledge available on the APP values of the GF(q) symbols in the vector of m1 GF(q) symbols, which map together onto the vector of m2 M-QAM symbols and further on onto the vector of m3 STBC codewords. The algorithm also considers only a limited number of potential combinations for each GF(q) symbol, those associated with this same limited number of highest APP values for this symbol. This latter consideration has been inspired from the original work done by the authors of [8, 11] to reduce the complexity of the non-binary LDPC decoder. Our proposed algorithm was shown to further reduce the complexity of the soft ML demapper by up to 85%.

The proposed solution mitigates the complexity challenge at the receiver faced with non-binary LDPC codes when one GF(q) symbol spreads across multiple QAM constellation symbols and STBC codewords, at the expense of a slight performance degradation but not sacrificing the performance merits of non-binary LDPC codes. This removes any restriction on the size of the GF order, QAM constellation order, and MIMO scheme, whilst preserving the merits of non-binary LDPC codes at very reasonable receiver complexity. Future work will be focused on the assessment of the MIMO schemes which are best suited for combination with GF(64) non-binary LDPC codes, with the ultimate goal of proposing non-binary LDPC codes for beyond 4 G wireless communication systems.

Declarations

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by INFSCO-ICT-216203 DAVINCI "Design And Versatile Implementation of Non-binary wireless Communications based on Innovative LDPC Codes" http://www.ict-davinci-codes.eu funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) [4].

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Samsung Electronics Research Institute
(2)
Dip. Ing. Informazione, University of Pisa

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© Mourad et al; licensee Springer. 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.