I am interested in the function $\sum_{i=0}^{k} {N \choose i}$ for fixed $N$ and $0 \leq k \leq N $. Obviously it equals 1 for $k = 0$ and $2^{N}$ for $k = N$, but are there any other notable properties? Any literature references?

In particular, does it have a closed form or notable algorithm for computing it efficiently?

In case you are curious, this function comes up in information theory as the number of bit-strings of length $N$ with Hamming weight less than or equal to $k$.

Edit: I've come across a useful upper bound: $(N+1)^{\underline{k}}$ where the underlined $k$ denotes falling factorial. Combinatorially, this means listing the bits of $N$ which are set (in an arbitrary order) and tacking on a 'done' symbol at the end. Any better bounds?