Mathematics, Department of


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Copyright 2000 AMS. Used by permission.


We construct certain error-correcting codes over finite rings and estimate their parameters. For this purpose, we need to develop some tools, notably an estimate for certain exponential sums and some results on canonical lifts of elliptic curves. These results may be of independent interest.

A code is a subset of An, where A is a finite set (called the alphabet). Usually A is just the field of two elements and, in this case, one speaks of binary codes. Such codes are used in applications where one transmits information through noisy channels. By building redundancy into the code, transmitted messages can be recovered at the receiving end. A code has parameters that measure its eficiency and error-correcting capability. For various reasons one often restricts attention to linear codes, which are linear subspaces of An when A is a field. However, there are non-linear binary codes (such as the Nordstrom-Robinson, Kerdock, and Preparata codes) that outperform linear codes for certain parameters. These codes have remained somewhat mysterious until recently when Hammons, et al. ([6]) discovered that one can obtain these codes from linear codes over rings (i.e. submodules of An, A a ring) via the Gray mapping, which we recall below. In a difierent vein, over the last decade there has been a lot of interest in linear codes coming from algebraic curves over finite fields. The construction of such codes was first proposed by Goppa in [5]; see [15] or [16] for instance. In [17], it is proven that for q ≥ 49 a square, there exist sequences of codes over the finite field with q elements which give asymptotically the best known linear codes over these fields. The second author has extended Goppa's construction to curves over local Artinian rings and shown, for instance, that the Nordstrom-Robinson code can be obtained from her construction followed by the Gray mapping; see [20] and [21]. While most of the parameters for these new codes were estimated in the above papers, the crucial parameter needed to describe the error-correcting capability of the images of these codes under the Gray mapping was still lacking. In this paper we consider the second author's construction in the special case of elliptic curves which are defined over finite local rings and which are the canonical lifts of their reductions. (See section 4 for more about canonical lifts.) For these codes, the missing parameter can be estimated, and we do so.