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IEEE Medal of Honor Goes to Data Compression Pioneer Jacob Ziv
25.02.2021 Joanna Goodrich
Engineering
Yaakov Ziv

IEEE Life Fellow Jacob Ziv will receive this year’s IEEE Medal of Honor “for fundamental contributions to information theory and data compression technology, and for distinguished research leadership.”

Ziv and Abraham Lempel developed two lossless data compression algorithms: Lempel-Ziv 77 in 1977 and LZ78 the following year. The two procedures enable perfect data reconstruction from compressed data and are more efficient than previous algorithms. They allowed for the development of GIFs, PNG, and ZIP files.

“The LZ algorithms were the first major successful universal compression algorithms,” says one engineer who endorsed Ziv for the award. “These algorithms, and Jacob’s analysis of them, [have] formed the basis for most subsequent work on universal algorithms.

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