Arithmetic Coding

Perhaps the major drawback to each of the Huffman encoding techniques is their poor performance when processing texts where one symbol has a probability of occurrence approaching unity. Although the entropy associated with such symbols is extremely low, each symbol must still be encoded as a discrete value. Arithmetic coding removes this restriction by representing messages as intervals of the real numbers between 0 and 1. Initially, the range of values for coding a text is the entire interval [0, 1]. As encoding proceeds, this range narrows while the number of bits required to represent it expands. Frequently occurring characters reduce the range less than characters occurring infrequently, and thus add fewer bits to the length of an encoded message.

See also: Entropy Coding, Huffman Coding.

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Subjects: Audio Mathematics