Home / Research Interests / Cyclotomics

[a_cyclotomics graphic]

Cyclotomics was founded in 1973 by my wife Jennifer Berlekamp, Solomon Golomb, and me. It began as a very small consulting company. For several years, it consisted of only two part-time employees: myself and a secretary. Our logo was the projective plane of order 2.

In 1982 I reduced my faculty appointments at UC Berkeley to 50% in order to spend more time on Cyclotomics. I managed the company as its CEO. As a director, Jennifer Berlekamp played a major role in personnel policy and physical plant, creating a friendly and productive working environment at Cyclotomics. Using only retained earnings and no outside investors, the company grew to 40 people. We were known as "experts in error-correcting codes."

The Berlekamp-Massey algebraic decoding algorithm for Bose-Chaudhuri-Hocquenhem and Reed-Solomon codes was the predecessor of a long sequence of many algorithms and techniques for encoding and decoding various types of block codes. The algorithms and techniques were invented and implemented by my colleagues and me at Cyclotomics, including Earl Cohen, Steve Pope, Gladiel Seroussi, Po Tong, Lloyd Welch, and others. They led to many publications and over 12 patented inventions, which formed the core of Cyclotomics' successful business for about 15 years. Applications included space and satellite communications, military communications, optical disk memories, magnetic disk memories, floppy disk memories, compact disks, and techniques for optically encoding digital sound tracks on movie film, called "Cinema Digital Sound", a.k.a Digital Optical Sound System. Our bit-serial encoders became the NASA standard for space communications.

Because of the business implications, some competitors' decoders carefully avoided using any of the patented "Berlekamp Decoding Algorithms", sticking instead with the less efficient but better-known public-domain algorithms that were first introduced in my 1968 book, or with other subsequent public-domain variations thereof.

In December 1985, Eastman Kodak acquired Cyclotomics. They renamed it "Kodak Berkeley Research", and gave it the tag-line "experts in error-correcting codes". It continued operating under that name for much of the following decade, after which it was downsized and moved to Rochester, NY.