Embedded Image Coding Using Zerotrees of Wavelet Coefficients

  • Jerome M. Shapiro
Part of the The International Series in Engineering and Computer Science book series (SECS, volume 450)


The Embedded Zerotree Wavelet Algorithm (EZW) is a simple, yet remarkably effective, image compression algorithm, having the property that the bits in the bit stream are generated in order of importance, yielding a fully embedded code. The embedded code represents a sequence of binary decisions that distinguish an image from the “null” image. Using an embedded coding algorithm, an encoder can terminate the encoding at any point thereby allowing a target rate or target distortion metric to be met exactly. Also, given a bit stream, the decoder can cease decoding at any point in the bit stream and still produce exactly the same image that would have been encoded at the bit rate corresponding to the truncated bit stream. In addition to producing a fully embedded bit stream, EZW consistently produces compression results that are competitive with virtually all known compression algorithms on standard test images. Yet this performance is achieved with a technique that requires absolutely no training, no pre-stored tables or codebooks, and requires no prior knowledge of the image source.

The EZW algorithm is based on four key concepts: 1) a discrete wavelet transform or hierarchical subband decomposition, 2) prediction of the absence of significant information across scales by exploiting the self-similarity inherent in images, 3) entropy-coded successive-approximation quantization, and 4) universal lossless data compression which is achieved via adaptive arithmetic coding.


Wavelet Coefficient Coarse Scale Uncertainty Interval Distortion Function Probability Density Function 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

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  • Jerome M. Shapiro

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