Lee distance

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In coding theory, the Lee distance is a distance between two strings x_1 x_2 \dots x_n and y_1 y_2 \dots y_n of equal length n over the q-ary alphabet {0, 1, …, q − 1} of size q ≥ 2. It is a metric, defined as

\sum_{i=1}^n \min(|x_i-y_i|,q-|x_i-y_i|).[1]

Considering the alphabet as the additive group Zq, the Lee distance between two letters is the length of shortest path in the Cayley graph (which is circular since the group is cyclic) between them.[2]

If q = 2 or q = 3 the Lee distance coincides with the Hamming distance.

The metric space induced by the Lee distance is a discrete analog of the elliptic space.[1]


If q = 6, then the Lee distance between 3140 and 2543 is 1 + 2 + 0 + 3 = 6.

History and application[edit]

The Lee distance is named after C. Y. Lee. It is applied for phase modulation while the Hamming distance is used in case of orthogonal modulation.

The Berlekamp code is an example of code in the Lee metric.[3] Other significant examples are the Preparata code and Kerdock code; these codes are non-linear when considered over a field, but are linear over a ring.[4]

Also, there exists a Gray isometry (bijection preserving weight) between \mathbb{Z}_4 with the Lee weight and \mathbb{Z}_2^2 with the Hamming weight.[4]


  1. ^ a b Deza, E.; Deza, M. (2014), Dictionary of Distances (3rd ed.), Elsevier, p. 52, ISBN 9783662443422 
  2. ^ Richard E. Blahut (2008). Algebraic Codes on Lines, Planes, and Curves: An Engineering Approach. Cambridge University Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-139-46946-3. 
  3. ^ Ron Roth (2006). Introduction to Coding Theory. Cambridge University Press. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-521-84504-5. 
  4. ^ a b Marcus Greferath (2009). "An Introduction to Ring-Linear Coding Theory". In Massimiliano Sala, Teo Mora, Ludovic Perret, Shojiro Sakata, Carlo Traverso. Gröbner Bases, Coding, and Cryptography. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 220. ISBN 978-3-540-93806-4.