Sciences de l’information

Instructor Ruediger Urbanke
Office INR 116
Phone +4121 6937692
Office Hours By appointment
Teaching Assistant Amin Karbasi
Phone +4121 693 6604
Office INR 036
Office Hours 24/7
Teaching Assistant Javad Ebrahimi
Phone +4121 693 1355
Office BC 047
Office Hours 24/7
Teaching Assistant Marc Vuffray
Phone +4121 693 5644
Office INR 037
Office Hours 24/7
Lectures Thursday 8:15 – 10:00
Exercises Thursday 10:15 – 12:00
Room CE 3

What we will cover

Imagine, you would like to preserve the music of your favorite band on a CD. What does it take to put music on a CD? You would use a microphone to transform the acoustic waves into an electrical signal. Now you are faced with your first challenge. The electrical signal is continuous in time but all you can store on a CD are bits (zeros and ones)! The first step therefore is to sample the signal, transforming the continuous waveform in a sequence of samples (numbers). Quite suprisingly, if done correctly, this step entails no loss of quality and you can reconstruct the original continuous waveform perfectly from the discrete set of samples. As a next step you will represent the samples (numbers) as sequence of bits (zeros and ones) and if possible compress this sequence of bits, i.e., represent the information contained therein in a more compact way. It is not unusual that you can achieve a compression by a factor ten or more without any essential loss in quality (just think of long pauses or repetitive patterns in the music). This second step is called source coding. You can now store the information on a CD. This is done by storing the sequence of bits are as a sequence of flat regions versus bumps on the surface of the CD, changing the reflectivity of the surface. Since the physical dimensions of each “bump” are tiny (less than a million-th of a meter), even small impurities (fingerprints, dust, …) on the surface of the CD can cause lots of bits to be “erased” if you try to read the data back. Therefore, it is important that before storing your data you add some redundancy to your data. This will ensure that you can retrieve it correctly even if some of the data is lost or corrupted. This is called error correction coding. As a final step you might want to protect your data from unauthorized access by encrypting it.

Special Announcements

Exam Rules: closed book, no calculator, no mobile phone, no friend, no cheat sheet, no formula book; only you and your brain

Exams and Grading

The final grade is determined as follows:

Graded Homeworks 10%
Final Exam 90%
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Total 100%

Instructions for Graded Homeworks

There are 4 graded homeworks, one for each module. Although you will receive some points that count towards your final grade, these homeworks are really designed for you to see if you can solve problems on your own. Use this chance.

For each graded homework it would therefore be best for you to solve it completely on your own.

But if you have trouble YOU CAN: (i) ask us in class if you do not know how to solve it, (ii) discuss with your colleagues; YOU CANNOT: (i) copy a solution from a friend (and neither from an enemy);

After any discussion you might have had, write down the solutions in your own words and independently from your colleagues.


Detailed Schedule


Date Topic Assignment Due Date/Solutions Posted Remarks
Sep 17 Introduction – 1h/ Source Coding – 2h slides homework 1 slotion 1  
Sep 24 Source Coding – 2h homework 2 solution 2  
Oct 1 Source Coding – 2h homework 3 solution 3 Special Guest Speaker: Prof. Patrick Thiran – in French!! Due date of homework is 15th October before 11:00 (during exercise session)
Oct 8 Signal Processing – 2hslides homework 4 solution 4  
Oct 15 Signal Processing – 2h slides      
Oct 22 Signal Processing – 2h slides homework 5 solution 5  
Oct 29 Signal Processing – 2h homework 6 find your number solution 6 Due date of homework is 12th November before 11:00 (during exercise session)
Nov 5 Cryptography – 2h homework 7 solution 7  
Nov 12 Cryptography – 2h homework 8 solution 8  
Nov 19 Cryptography – 2h homework 9 solution 9  
Nov 26 Cryptography – 2h homework 10 solution 10  
Dec 3 Channel Coding – 2h homework 11 solution 11
Dec 10 Channel Coding – 2h homework 12 solution 12 Due date is 22nd December before 12:00pm
Dec 17 Channel Coding – 1h      
Jan 8 Final exam 2008 exam 2008   Don’t forget to get prepared for the real final exam ;-)

Course Notes

Additional Reading Material


The following is a set of links that contain some useful information. Some contain applets, some contain recommendations for further reading.

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