A Split-Reduced Successive Cancellation List Decoder for Polar Codes

Zhaoyang Zhang, Liang Zhang, Xianbin Wang, Caijun Zhong, H. Vincent Poor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


This paper focuses on low complexity successive cancellation list (SCL) decoding of polar codes. In particular, using the fact that splitting may be unnecessary when the reliability of decoding the unfrozen bit is sufficiently high, a novel splitting rule is proposed. Based on this rule, it is conjectured that, if the correct path survives at some stage, it tends to survive till termination without splitting with high probability. On the other hand, the incorrect paths are more likely to split at the following stages. Motivated by these observations, a simple counter that counts the successive number of stages without splitting is introduced for each decoding path to facilitate the identification of correct and incorrect paths. Specifically, any path with counter value larger than a predefined threshold ω is deemed to be the correct path, which will survive at the decoding stage, while other paths with counter value smaller than the threshold will be pruned, thereby reducing the decoding complexity. Furthermore, it is proved that there exists a unique unfrozen bit uN-K1+1, after which the successive cancellation decoder achieves the same error performance as the maximum likelihood decoder if all the prior unfrozen bits are correctly decoded, which enables further complexity reduction. Simulation results demonstrate that the proposed low complexity SCL decoder attains performance similar to that of the conventional SCL decoder, while achieving substantial complexity reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7339660
Pages (from-to)292-302
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Gaussian approximation
  • Polar codes
  • split-reduced successive cancellation list decoder


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