Kiel’s world record in efficient data transmission

Caption: Coded data: Kiel scientists set new standards in efficient data transmission.
Photo: Jürgen Haacks, Copyright: CAU

It can be a long way from theory to practice. A working group from Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) has now reduced the gap between feasible data transmission rates and theoretically possible rate to a world record level. This forms the basis for fifth-generation mobile communications, which will offer highest data transfer rates. Visions for the future such as mobile X-ray machines, or miniature capsules capable of sending an EEG directly from the brain, come a considerable step closer to implementation. In addition, this world record also means that less electromagnetic pollution is produced from the same amount of mobile communications usage.

The insignificant number of one decibel describes that which previously only Kiel’s Information and Coding Theory scientists achieved: They have used a combination of modulation and coding to improve the quality of mobile phone calls, for example. This makes it possible to minimise the required transmission power at higher transmission rates. When several mobile communication applications are used simultaneously, such as telephone calls, video recordings or text messages, it is well-known that only a small amount of available capacity is left on the information highway. Using presently existing research findings, it is possible to use less bandwidth by adding different data streams together. “Previously however, the problem was how to uniquely decode the data streams at the receiving end”, explains the leader of the working group, Professor Peter Adam Höher. The Kiel researchers have come up with a very straightforward method in order to ensure that the receiver releases the right information at the end: “Additional zeroes and ones are added to the original information bits. These are calculated from the information-bearing bits using an advanced coding scheme. The receiving end only needs to know the code, and ambiguities in data transmission will be history”, says Höher.

The working group is participating in the CAU’s Faculty of Engineering’s international Master’s degree programme “Digital Communications”. The course schedule includes advanced mobile communication systems, fast optical data transmission technology, or 3D television for the living room. Radar and underwater navigation is also part of the diverse curriculum. Graduates come to Kiel University from all over the world to participate in practice-based projects. The next scientific generation is thriving in this dynamic environment: in the current 2011/12 winter semester alone, there were just under 50 registrations by students from all over the world.