Pulse-position modulation (PPM) is a form of signal modulation in which M message bits are encoded by transmitting a single pulse in one of possible time-shifts. This is repeated every T seconds, such that the transmitted bit rate is M/T bits per second. It is primarily useful for optical communications systems, where there tends to be little or no multipath interference.
One of the key difficulties of implementing this technique is that the receiver must be properly synchronized to align the local clock with the beginning of each symbol. Therefore, it is often implemented differentially as differential pulse-position modulation, whereby each pulse position is encoded relative to the previous, such that the receiver must only measure the difference in the arrival time of successive pulses. It is possible to limit the propagation of errors to adjacent symbols, so that an error in measuring the differential delay of one pulse will affect only two symbols, instead of affecting all successive measurements.