The Lexicographic Construction

A q-ary, length n, minimum distance d lexicode is traditionally defined constructively based on a lexicographic (i.e., dictionary) ordering of vectors in which, for example, 01111 comes before 10000. The construction starts with the set $ \mathcal {S}$ = {0} and greedily adds, until exhaustion, the lexicographically earliest vector whose Hamming distance from $ \mathcal {S}$ is at least d.

For example, the codewords of the binary lexicode (i.e., q = 2) of length n = 3 and minimum distance d = 2 are marked by a $ \bullet$ in Figure [*] and would be computed left-to-right across the figure.

Figure 1: A simple n = 3, d = 2 binary lexicode.
\begin{tabular}{\vert c\vert c\vert c\vert c\vert c...
... & $\bullet$ & $\bullet$ & \ \hline

This greedy construction always generates a linear code [3,5,9]. Thus, we may completely describe a dimension k lexicode by finding k basis vectors (known as ``generators'') using what we call the lexicographic construction. This construction starts with the zero code $\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{0}^{d}}={\mathbf{0}}$ and greedily adds the lexicographically earliest vector of distance d from the linear space spanned by the previously added vectors; k such iterations form the dimension k code $\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{k}^{d}}$. Table 1 demonstrates this construction for d = 3; the resulting code is a (7, 4, 3) binary code, meaning that it has length 7, dimension 4, and minimum distance 3.

Table 1: Generator matrix for the dimension 4, minimum distance 3 binary code $ \mathcal {L}$43. The generator paddings are in bold.

We may understand the lexicographic construction more analytically by making use of the covering radius of each intermediate code $\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{i}^{d}}$ in the iteration. The covering radius of a length n code is the smallest integer $ \rho$ with the property that Hamming balls of radius $ \rho$ centered at codewords of the code will cover every vector of $ \mathbb {F}$qn. In other words, $ \rho$ is the maximum distance of a vector in $ \mathbb {F}$qn from the code. As an example, one can readily see that the binary lexicode in Figure 1 has a covering radius of 1 because every vector in $ \mathbb {F}$23 is at most of Hamming distance 1 from a code vector.

An iteration of the lexicographic construction on an intermediate code $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}$ whose covering radius is $ \rho$ and minimum distance is d can thus be understood as the addition of a generator vector:

\langle 1^{d-\rho}\; \vert\; \ensuremath{f_{\mbox{\small lexi}}}(\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}) \rangle

where 1d - $\scriptstyle \rho$, known as the generator padding, has the usual meaning of (d - $ \rho$) successive 1's, and the function $\ensuremath{f_{\mbox{\small lexi}}}(\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}})$ returns the lexicographically earliest vector of distance $ \rho$ from $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}$:

\ensuremath{f_{\mbox{\small lexi}}}(\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}) ...
... d(w,\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}) < d(v,\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}),

where we define

$\displaystyle \mathbb {F}$q* = $\displaystyle \bigcup_{i=1}^{\infty}$$\displaystyle \mathbb {F}$qi.

We use the notation $v \ensuremath{<_{\mbox{lexi}}}w$ to denote that v appears before w in a lexicographical ordering of $ \mathbb {F}$q*. Moreover we use the customary notation $ \langle$ . | . $ \rangle$ to denote concatenation.

The linear codes generated by the lexicographic construction described above are precisely the lexicodes.

Theorem 1   Over a finite field $ \mathbb {F}$q, a dimension k, minimum distance d code $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}$ is a lexicode if and only if it is produced by the lexicographic construction, namely $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}=\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{k}^{d}}$.

Proof: We first prove that $ \mathcal {L}$kd is always a lexicode, by induction on k for an arbitrary, fixed d. For the base case it is clear that $\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{1}^{d}}= \left\{0^d,1^d\right\}$ is a (d, 1, d ) lexicode. Now assume as an inductive hypothesis that $ \mathcal {L}$kd is a dimension k, minimum distance d lexicode. From the definition of the lexicographic construction, $ \mathcal {L}$k + 1d has parameters (n + d - $ \rho$, k + 1, d ), where $ \rho$ is the covering radius of $ \mathcal {L}$kd. Consider the (n + d - $ \rho$, k', d ) lexicode $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_{k'}$ constructed by repeatedly choosing the appropriate lexicographically-earliest vectors in $ \mathbb {F}$qn + d - $\scriptstyle \rho$. Clearly, we generate $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_k$ in the process of this construction, so that $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_k \subseteq \ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_{k'}$ and, by the inductive hypothesis, $\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{k}^{d}}\subseteq \ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_{k'}$. Moreover, the vector

v = \left\langle 1^{d-\rho} \:\vert\: \ensuremath{f_{\mbox{\small lexi}}}( \ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_k )\right\rangle

is the lexicographically earliest vector of distance $ \rho$ from $\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{k}^{d}}$. Thus, it must be the case that $v \mbox{$\,\inn\,$}\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_{k'}$ and, since $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_{k'}$ is linear, $\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{k+1}^{d}}\subseteq \ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_{k'}$.

In addition, any vector v$ \mbox{$ \inn $}$$ \mathbb {F}$qn + d - $\scriptstyle \rho$ that is in $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_{k'}$ but not in $ \mathcal {L}$k + 1d would necessarily have its n right-most bits at distance $ \leq$ $ \rho$ from $ \mathcal {L}$k + 1d, and its other bits at distance $\leq \ensuremath {\left\lceil (d-\rho)/2 \right\rceil}$ from $ \mathcal {L}$k + 1d. Noting that $ \rho$ < d, we may now use the triangle inequality to see that the distance from v to $ \mathcal {L}$k + 1d (and consequently also $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_{k'}$) must be at most

\rho + \ensuremath {\left\lceil (d-\rho)/2 \right\rceil}\ = \ \ensuremath {\left\lceil (d+\rho)/2 \right\rceil}\ < \ d.

This contradicts our constructive definition of  $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_{k'}$, so it must be that $\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{k+1}^{d}}=\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}_{k'}$.

For the converse assertion of the theorem, we need to show that a non-trivial (n, k, d ) lexicode $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}$ can be constructed by the lexicographic construction. The code $ \mathcal {L}$kd produced by k iterations of the minimum-distance d lexicographic construction is clearly a lexicode, from the first part of the proof. Since all distance d lexicodes are ordered by inclusion, as we saw in the first part of this proof, we may conclude that either $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}\subseteq \ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{k}^{d}}$ or $\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{k}^{d}}\subseteq \ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}$. However $\ensuremath{{\mathcal{L}}_{k}^{d}}$ and $\ensuremath{{\mathbb{C}}}$ are both non-trivial5 dimension k codes, so it follows that they must be equal.

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Theorem 1 allows us to bypass the codeword-by-codeword lexicode construction, and instead directly compute the generator matrix of a desired lexicode.