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Network Coding (NC) was initially introduced, where its utility for multicast networks was shown. NC allows the algebraic combination of packets at nodes of a multi-hop network, for example by a bit-by-bit XOR operation of two packets, before forwarding them towards their destination. NC can reduce the maximum bandwidth needed for specific links provided that redundant data is sent over alternate paths so that destination nodes may reconstruct the original packet flows. Thus NC can reduce traffic rates on links while distributing traffic on a larger number of paths. It also offers a simple form of encryption for the data that is being transmitted since none of the streams taken singly can be completely decoded by themselves.
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