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What is Compression
Compression is the process of reducing the size of a file by
encoding its data information more efficiently. By doing this, the
result is a reduction in the number of bits and bytes used to store
the information. In effect, a smaller file size is generated in
order to achieve a faster transmission of electronic files and a
smaller space required for its downloading.
How Does Compression Work?
When you have a file containing text, there can be repetitive
single words, word combinations and phrases that use up storage
space unproductively. Or there can be media such as high tech graphical
images in it whose data information occupies too much space. To
reduce this inefficiency electronically, you can compress the document.
Compression is done by using compression algorithms (formulae)
that rearrange and reorganize data information so that it can be
stored more economically. By encoding information, data can be stored
using fewer bits. This is done by using a compression/decompression
program that alters the structure of the data temporarily for transporting,
reformatting, archiving, saving, etc.
Compression, when at work, reduces information by using different
and more efficient ways of representing the information. Methods
may include simply removing space characters, using a single character
to identify a string of repeated characters, or substituting smaller
bit sequences for recurring characters. Some compression algorithms
delete information altogether to achieve a smaller file size. Depending
on the algorithm used, files can be adequately or greatly reduced
from its original size.
Lossless Compression vs. Lossy Compression
Lossless compression is a type of compression that can reduce
files without a loss of information in the process. The original
file can be recreated exactly when uncompressed. To achieve this,
algorithms create reference points (substitution characters) for
things such as textual patterns, store them in a catalogue and send
them along with the smaller encoded file. When uncompressed, the
file is "re-generated" by using those documented reference points
to re-substitute the original information.
Lossless compression is ideal for documents containing text and
numerical data where any loss of textual information can't be tolerated.
ZIP compression, for instance, is a lossless compression that detects
patterns and replaces them with a single character. Another example,
LZW compression (Abraham Lempel, Jakob Ziv and Terry Welch-creators
of LZW), works best for files containing lots of repetitive data.
Lossy compression, on the other hand, reduces the size of a file
by eliminating bits of information. It permanently deletes any unnecessary
data. This compression is usually used with images, audio and graphics
where a loss of quality is affordable. However, the original file
can't be retained.
For instance, in an image containing a green landscape with a
blue sky, all the different and slight shades of blue and green
are eliminated with compression. The essential nature of the data
isn't lost - the essential colors are still there. One popular example
of lossy compression is JPG compression (Joint Photographic Experts
Group) that is suitable for grayscale or color images.
Compression and PDF
Thus, when looking at compression in terms of the PDF, it's easy
to see how the format makes use of compression methods. Compression
aids PDF functions such as:
Transmitting large file sizes
Keeping the original appearance
of a document
Transferring files with multiple pages
The main uses of the PDF make compression a necessity.
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