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data compression

Storing data in a format that requires less space than usual.

Data compression is particularly useful in communications because it enables devices to transmit or store the same amount of data in fewer bits. There are a variety of data compression techniques, but only a few have been standardized. The CCITT has defined a standard data compression technique for transmitting faxes (Group 3 standard) and a compression standard for data communications through modems (CCITT V.42bis). In addition, there are file compression formats, such as ARC and ZIP.

Data compression is also widely used in backup utilities, spreadsheet applications, and database management systems. Certain types of data, such as bit-mapped graphics, can be compressed to a small fraction of their normal size.

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