Shannon, the father of Information Theory, first posed the question asking how a
communication system can efficiently transmit the information that a source produces in
the late 1940s, he gave way to an entirely new field of study: data compression.
Developments made in this area during the past half century have ignited a communications
revolution in recent years. This transformation includes the ever-present, ever-growing
Internet; the explosive development of mobile communications; and the ever-increasing
importance of video communication. Data compression, which for a long time was the domain
of a relatively small group of engineers and scientists, is now ubiquitous for is it one
of the enabling technologies for so many aspects of the multimedia revolution. Though the
field of data compression is either taken for granted or unrecognized by many, cellular
phones, satellite TV, modems, fax machines and many other communication technologies could
never have been conceived without it.