A Simpler Analysis of Burrows-Wheeler Based Compression

  • Haim Kaplan
  • Shir Landau
  • Elad Verbin
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4009)


In this paper we present a new technique for worst-case analysis of compression algorithms which are based on the Burrows-Wheeler Transform. We deal mainly with the algorithm purposed by Burrows and Wheeler in their first paper on the subject [6], called bw0. This algorithm consists of the following three steps: 1) Compute the Burrows-Wheeler transform of the text, 2) Convert the transform into a sequence of integers using the move-to-front algorithm, 3) Encode the integers using Arithmetic code or any order-0 encoding (possibly with run-length encoding).

We prove a strong upper bound on the worst-case compression ratio of this algorithm. This bound is significantly better than bounds known to date and is obtained via simple analytical techniques. Specifically, we show that for any input string s, and μ> 1, the length of the compressed string is bounded by μ Open image in new window |s| H k (s) + log(ζ(μ)) Open image in new window |s| + g k where H k is the k-th order empirical entropy, g k is a constant depending only on k and on the size of the alphabet, and \(\zeta(\mu) = \frac{1}{1^\mu} + \frac{1}{2^\mu} + \ldots \) is the standard zeta function. As part of the analysis we prove a result on the compressibility of integer sequences, which is of independent interest.

Finally, we apply our techniques to prove a worst-case bound on the compression ratio of a compression algorithm based on the Burrows-Wheeler transform followed by distance coding, for which worst-case guarantees have never been given. We prove that the length of the compressed string is bounded by 1.7286 Open image in new window |s| H k (s) + g k . This bound is better than the bound we give for bw0.


Compression Ratio Compression Algorithm Input String Arithmetic Code Consecutive Occurrence 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haim Kaplan
    • 1
  • Shir Landau
    • 1
  • Elad Verbin
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Computer ScienceTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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