The term is short for maximum-length sequence. It is so called because the generating shift register only has qn states, and so such a register (with arbitrary feedback logic) cannot generate a sequence whose period exceeds qn. But with linear logic the zero state must stand in a loop of its own (see Good–de Bruijn diagram) and so the period of a linear feedback register cannot exceed qn – 1. This period, which can be achieved when and only when the polynomial is primitive, is therefore the maximum that can be achieved.
m-sequences have many useful properties. They are employed as pseudorandom sequences, error-correcting codes (as they stand, or shortened, or extended), and in determining the time response of linear channels (see convolution). See also simplex codes.
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