12 – Data compression

In its 31 years of activity MPEG has developed standards for compression of audio, video, 3D graphics. What is less known is that MPEG has worked on compression of many other data types. Most of them had an ancillary role to the media data, but DNA reads from high speed sequencing machines are a data type to which compression has been successfully applied.

Some people claim that MPEG is not equipped to del with compression ot other data that media data. This sentence can be true of false depending on which point in time you make this statement. In 1988 MPEG – Moving Picutes – was ill equipped to deal with Audio compression, but then experts came and the epoch-marking MP3 audio compression standard was produced. A priori MPEG did not know how to compress meshes or point clouds, but appropriate experts came in and good standards have been and are produced. MPEG did not know much about how to compress DNA reads, but with appropriate education it could do that.

Compression is not a universal technology, but can be adapted to many different domains.


  • Meaningful data can be compressed analyses of data types that MPEG has handled in all its standards
  • Moving intelligence around identifies “artificial neural networks” as a data type of growing importance and size that benefits from compression;
  • MPEG standards for genomics describes how a variety of MPEG compression tools have been successfully applied to the compression of DNA reads from high-speed sequencing machines
  • Compression of other data raises again the issue of “data compression” being a field of endeavour with its own characteristics.



Table of contents 11 Systems standards keep the pieces together 12.1 Meaningful data can be compressed