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Chapter 27: Data Compression

Data transmission and storage cost money. The more information being dealt with, the more it costs. In spite of this, most digital data are not stored in the most compact form. Rather, they are stored in whatever way makes them easiest to use, such as: ASCII text from word processors, binary code that can be executed on a computer, individual samples from a data acquisition system, etc. Typically, these easy-to-use encoding methods require data files about twice as large as actually needed to represent the information. Data compression is the general term for the various algorithms and programs developed to address this problem. A compression program is used to convert data from an easy-to-use format to one optimized for compactness. Likewise, an uncompression program returns the information to its original form. We examine five techniques for data compression in this chapter. The first three are simple encoding techniques, called: run-length, Huffman, and delta encoding. The last two are elaborate procedures that have established themselves as industry standards: LZW and JPEG.