The Rate-Distortion Theory - MULTIMEDIA

Rate – distortion theory gives an analytical expression for how much compression can be achieved using lossy compression methods. Many of the existing audio, speech, image, and video compression techniques have transforms, quantization, and bit - rate allocation procedures that capitalize on the general shape of rate – distortion functions.

Rate – distortion theory was created by Claude Shannon in his foundational work on information theory.

In rate – distortion theory, the rate is usually understood as the number of bits per data sample to be stored or transmitted. The notion ofdistortion is a subject of on - going discussion. In the most simple case (which is actually used in most cases), the distortion is defined as the expected value of the square of the difference between input and output signal (i.e., the mean squared error).

However, since we know that most lossy compression techniques operate on data that will be perceived by human consumers (listening to music, watching pictures and video) the distortion measure should preferably be modeled on human perception and perhaps aesthetics: much like the use of probability in lossless compression, distortion measures can ultimately be identified with loss functions as used in Bayesian estimation and decision theory.

In audio compression, perceptual models (and therefore perceptual distortion measures) are relatively well developed and routinely used in compression techniques such as MP3 or Vorbis, but are often not easy to include in rate – distortion theory. In image and video compression, the human perception models are less well developed and inclusion is mostly limited to the JPEG and MPEG weighting quantization, normalization matrix.


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