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Huffman coding

A statistical compression method that converts characters into variable length bit strings. Most-frequently occurring characters are converted to shortest bit strings; least frequent, the longest. Compression takes two passes. The first pass analyzes a block of data and creates a tree model based on its contents. The second pass compresses the data via the model. Decompression decodes the variable length strings via the tree. See LZW.


(Lempel-Ziv-Welch) A data compression method that stems from techniques introduced by Jacob Ziv and Abraham Lempel. LZW has been used in many hardware and software products, including V.42bis modems, GIF, TIF and PDF files and PostScript Level 2. The LZ77 method creates pointers back to repeating data, while LZ78 creates a dictionary of repeating phrases with pointers to those phrases.

The Welch in Lempel-Ziv-Welch is for Terry Welch, the Unisys researcher who created an enhanced version of these methods that was patented by Unisys. Unisys collected royalties from thousands of software publishers whose applications used this algorithm until the patents expired in 2004. This was the most widely licensed data compression patent in history. See PNG.

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