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Method Compresses Differing Data Streams Simultaneously
March 11, 2011

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Innovators at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center have patented a system for compressing data streams that contain multiple types of data or streams that vary in type over time. The innovation accomplishes lossless or lossy compression and decompression of many types of scientific data (sensors, video, images, text, graphics), including cases where low-frequency data is merged with high-frequency data, or where data types are mixed. Conventional compression techniques assume a single type of data is being transmitted and require the use of a single compression algorithm. In contrast, Armstrong's compression system has the capability to select the most appropriate compression tool for reducing the number of bits required to represent the original data segment. The system automatically selects the best option from a current competitive analysis of a portfolio of compression tools (algorithms) based on the specifications of the user, capabilities of the hardware, and the transmission bandwidth available.

Prior knowledge of the data stream characteristics are not required, but can be used to tailor individual compression tools and associated parameters. If this information is not available, or the stream changes characteristics over time, the system can be configured to dynamically adapt to the current data. The ability of the system to increase the compression ratio or adapt to changing data types is limited only by the hardware. Incorporating faster hardware into the system increases the available time for competitive analysis, resulting in higher compression ratios and shorter learning times. The system can also be configured to fully utilize the processing capability of the hardware or to execute within time constraints in order to allow the coexistence of additional user-defined processing. Additionally, the system can compress either data streams or files. When compressing files, the system can be configured such that compression ratio is maximized within time constraints, permitting a tradeoff between compression ratio and compression time.


  • Powerful: Enables full processor utilization to optimize compression ratio based on hardware performance
  • Portable: Implementation is feasible on a wide range of platforms from microcontrollers and microprocessors to cloud computing
  • Flexible: Allows incorporation of new or existing compression tools
  • Adaptable: Can be preconfigured or allowed to learn/adapt to current data characteristics
  • Efficient: Reduces large video, image, and scientific files into smaller files for transmission than other similar systems
  • Lossless: Can be configured for lossless operation for data integrity or allowed to be lossy


This technology is suitable for a variety of applications involving time-series or spectral analysis. Potential applications include:

  • Satellite and wireless communications, including telemetry
  • Computer networking
  • Speech recognition
  • Audio/video streaming and storage
  • Data streaming and storage


Armstrong has one patent issued (U.S. Patent No: 7,180,943→ ) for this technology.

Commercial Opportunity

This technology is part of NASA's technology transfer program. The program seeks to stimulate development of commercial uses of NASA-developed technologies. NASA is flexible in its agreements, and opportunities exist for licensing and joint development. Armstrong is interested in a partnership to commercialize this technology.

Contact Information

If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA's technology transfer program, please contact:

Technology Transfer Office
NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center
PO Box 273, M/S 1100
Edwards, CA 93523-0273
Phone: (661) 276-3368
E-mail: DFRC-TTO@mail.nasa.gov

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Page Last Updated: September 26th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator