– The TU Dortmund Compression Framework

Project Ideas

We maintain a list of medium size projects on this page.

These projects are self-contained and consist of ideas for enhancements and novel compression algorithms for tudocomp. They range from projects targeted at "nice-to-heave" features to projects related to scientific research in the field of data compression.

For all these projects, contributors should be interested in data compression in general, as well as in at least in one of the following fields in particular:

We encourage everyone (not just students) to take part in the development of the tudocomp framework by participating at one of the listed projects.

Please have a look at the tudocomp homepage to get a glimpse on what this framework is all about. tudocomp's source code is publicly available at github.


Here is an overview over our project ideas with a basic categorization. If you are interested in any of the following projects, please also read the General Information section.

  1. Review of Coding Strategies (Encoding)
  2. The AreaComp Compression Algorithm (Compression)
  3. Clever Tie Breaking for lcpcomp (Algorithm Engineering)
  4. k-maxsat for lcpcomp (Algorithm Engineering)
  5. Efficient Integer Coders (Encoding)
  6. LZ78 with a Compact Hash Table (Compression, Hashing)
  7. Web Application for Visual String Analysis (Visualization, Web Development)
  8. 7zip-compatible Output Format (Interoperability)
  9. Graphical User Interface (GUI Development)
  10. Variants of LZ78U (Compression)

General Information

Participating as a tudocomp contributor involves the following:

  1. Get familiar with git in case you are not yet.
  2. Fork tudocomp on github.
  3. Write, evaluate and comment your code and get back to the tudocomp community when you are ready.
  4. Keep a diary documenting your project's evolution and progress and what issues you faced, solved or could not solve. This will also help yourself evaluating your project plan (see below).
  5. After our green light, file a pull request of your stable achievements.

Under stable, we understand that your code is


while you are working on your project, a steady communication between you and the community is desirable. This is in order to give you the best possible support and keep you up to date about potential changes of the framework's architecture (e.g. due to new features being implemented or larger issues being fixed).

We use the following forms of communication:

In general, do not hesitate to contact the community about any ideas or concerns that you may have.

We invite anybody to join and start working on their own implementation of compression algorithms.

Project Plan

Project planning is necessary to structure how and when parts of a project have to be done. The first step of starting a project is to set up a detailed project plan. We encourage to realize this plan using issue trackers, i.e., by expressing single tasks as tickets, bundled in milestones. This can easily be transferred into a Gantt diagram.

The project plan includes intermediate and secondary goals and deliveries with clear deadlines, as well as reasonable goals for mid-term evaluation. Remember to add slack times for the time ranges in which you might not be available.

While working on a project, the project plan should indicate where you are at the moment, i.e., what has and has not yet been done at any point of time. In case your time management drifts apart from what you expected from the project plan, you should get in touch with your mentors.

Keep a diary, documenting your project's evolution and progress and what issues you faced, solved or could not solve, as well as what tasks you were able to finish in time and what is behind schedule.

Project Ideas

The following is a collection of our project ideas. If you have further project ideas and/or want to discuss some of our proposed projects please contact us via e-mail. Feel free to subscribe to our mailing list and follow the discussions to see what is going on.

1. Review of Coding Strategies

tudocomp currently provides only a canonical Huffman coder and a customized static low entropy coder.

Novel coding algorithms provide better precision than a Huffman coder and are faster than arithmetic coders. It is interesting to integrate general codings like ASM or FSE or specialized codings like ETDC into tudocomp and evaluate all codings with respect to their compression ratio and coding/decoding time.


Category: Encoding

2. The AreaComp Compression Algorithm

The idea of AreaComp is to substitute frequent large substrings of a text. We search for the substring that maximizes the value of a cost function. The cost function weights the number of occurrences and the length of a substring, e.g., the multiplication of the length and the number of occurrences of a substring is a natural choice.

Given the suffix array and the longest common prefix array, we can find the number of occurrences of a substring in the text by looking at both arrays.

A naive approach would be to store all substrings of a certain length occurring at least twice in a priority queue, with its cost function value as its key. We pop the topmost element (i.e., the best substring w.r.t. the cost function) off from the heap, substitute its occurrences, and update the suffix array and the longest common prefix array. There is a similar method called "greedy off-line textual substitution" that considers all non-overlapping occurrences.

Category: Compression


3. Clever Tie Breaking for lcpcomp

Our compressor lcpcomp (implemented in tudocomp) is a longest-first greedy compression algorithm.

Given multiple longest substrings, there is no strict tie breaking rule that states which of the substring to select for substitution. The focus of this project is to enhance the lcpcomp compressors with a heuristic for which substring lcpcomp should choose. The heuristic can be based on the selection of a tie breaking rule with the best expectation in terms of compression ratio or decompression speed.

Category: Algorithm Engineering


4. k-maxsat for lcpcomp

Decompressing an lcpcomp compressed file is a heavy task with respect to time. That is because references of lcpcomp can be nested, i.e., a reference can refer to a substring that got replaced with another reference.

The nesting of references can form long dependency chains that need to be resolved before the actual decompression can take place. This project focuses on a modification of the compression strategy, where we want to check whether it is possible to cirumvent the production of long dependency chaines.

It can be shown that this problem is related to the k-maxsat problem. The aim of this project is to devise an approximation algorithm for the k-maxsat problem to prevent long dependency chains.

Category: Algorithm Engineering


5. Efficient Integer Coders

The aim of this project is to implement and evaluate a fast Fibonacci encoding algorithm.

Fibonacci coding is a universal code that represents integers succinctly. The coding splits an integer into summands that are Fibonacci words. Although the coding achieves a very compact representation, its decoding is slow. In this project, the encoding shall be implemented and benchmarked in tudocomp, i.e., the goal is to measure its speed and compare to currently avaiable Fibonacci coders.

Category: Encodings


6. LZ78 with a Compact Hash Table

Our LZ78 compressor can utilize different Lempel-Ziv-78 tries, e.g., a binary trie, a ternary trie, or a trie based on a hash table. The latter is the fastest, but heaviest trie implementation.

In the light of compact hash tables, we wonder whether we can drop the memory footprint of hash table implementations while still being very fast. The goal of this project is to research on this topic and develop a new, memory-efficient LZ78 trie based on a compact hash table.

Category: Compression, Hashing

7. Web Application for Visual String Analysis

While working with lossless compression algorithms on texts, we often experience the lack of tools that visualize text index data structures.

There are some tools that provide limited insight to some data structures. However, there is no powerful and easy-to-use tool that covers a majority of the most frequently used data structures.

The aim of this project is to produce a web application (preferably based on JavaScript) that interactively visualizes the most commonly used data structures like suffix arrays, longest common prefix arrays, etc., with respect to text compression.


Category: Visualization, Web Development

8. 7zip-compatible Output Format

To improve the usability of the tudocomp framework, we want the tudocomp output format to become compatible to 7zip. The 7z format supports various compression techniques due to a versatile header, describing the exact used compression technique.

This project's aim is to adapt the 7z format for the tudocomp command line tool.

Category: Interoperability


9. Graphical User Interface

The tudocomp framework provides only a command line tool as an interface to the end user. An graphical user interface would benefit the project for addressing users with antipathies to command line tools.

The GUI should provide the selection of multiple files/directories and an easy way to assemble a custom compression pipeline using what is available in tudocomp. It should be as platform independent as possible and usable on any platform supported by tudocomp.

The GUI can be developed, for instance, using a framework like Qt.

Category: GUI Development

10. Variants of LZ78U

Our LZ78U compressor currently uses the class cst_sada of the SDSL-lite library to build a suffix tree. Alternative suffix tree consruction data structures could be faster/memory friendlier.

Another interesting promlem is how the factorization of the factor labels of the LZ78U should be done. Currently, we partition an LZ78U factor label in characters and former LZ78U factors, greedily chosen from left to right. The factorization of a factor label does not introduce new LZ78U factors. If it would, then there is a need for the nested/recursive factorization of factor labels created during the factorization of a factor label. It could be that this improves the compression ratio.

Category: Compression