Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Jeffrey W. Humphries, PhD.


Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a method for transmitting a cryptographic key between a sender and receiver in a theoretically unconditionally secure way. Unfortunately, the present state of technology prohibits the flawless quantum transmission required to make QKD a reality. For this reason, error reconciliation protocols have been developed which preserve security while allowing a sender and receiver to reconcile the errors in their respective keys. The most famous of these protocols is Brassard and Salvail's Cascade, which is effective, but suffers from a high communication complexity and therefore results in low throughput. Another popular option is Buttler's Winnow protocol, which reduces the communication complexity over Cascade, but has the added detriment of introducing errors, and has been shown to be less effective than Cascade. Finally, Gallager's Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) codes have recently been shown to reconcile errors at rates higher than those of Cascade and Winnow with a large reduction in communication, but with greater computational complexity. This research seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of these LDPC codes in a QKD setting, while comparing real-world parameters such as runtime, throughput and communication complexity empirically with the well-known Cascade and Winnow algorithms. Additionally, the effects of inaccurate error estimation, non-uniform error distribution and varying key length on all three protocols are evaluated for identical input key strings. Analyses are performed on the results in order to characterize the performance of all three protocols and determine the strengths and weaknesses of each.

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