International Journal of Mathematics and Mathematical Sciences
Volume 30 (2002), Issue 8, Pages 491-504

Note on decipherability of three-word codes

F. Blanchet-Sadri and T. Howell

Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of North Carolina, P.O. Box 26170, Greensboro 27402-6170, NC, USA

Received 29 January 2001

Copyright © 2002 F. Blanchet-Sadri and T. Howell. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The theory of uniquely decipherable (UD) codes has been widely developed in connection with automata theory, combinatorics on words, formal languages, and monoid theory. Recently, the concepts of multiset decipherable (MSD) and set decipherable (SD) codes were developed to handle some special problems in the transmission of information. Unique decipherability is a vital requirement in a wide range of coding applications where distinct sequences of code words carry different information. However, in several applications, it is necessary or desirable to communicate a description of a sequence of events where the information of interest is the set of possible events, including multiplicity, but where the order of occurrences is irrelevant. Suitable codes for these communication purposes need not possess the UD property, but the weaker MSD property. In other applications, the information of interest may be the presence or absence of possible events. The SD property is adequate for such codes. Lempel (1986) showed that the UD and MSD properties coincide for two-word codes and conjectured that every three-word MSD code is a UD code. Guzmán (1995) showed that the UD, MSD, and SD properties coincide for two-word codes and conjectured that these properties coincide for three-word codes. In an earlier paper (2001), Blanchet-Sadri answered both conjectures positively for all three-word codes {c1,c2,c3} satisfying |c1|=|c2||c3|. In this note, we answer both conjectures positively for other special three-word codes. Our procedures are based on techniques related to dominoes.