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Burrows–Wheeler Transform

Tools that apply Burrows-Wheeler algorithm. Burrows-Wheeler transform (BWT) is an algorithm maximizing repeated letters in a text, which is useful in data compression.

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Burrows–Wheeler Transform -

Tag(s) : Compression

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Burrows–Wheeler Transform

BWT Decompress



BWT Compress


Answers to Questions (FAQ)

What is Burrows–Wheeler Transform? (Definition)

The Burrows-Wheeler transform (BWT) reorganizes the characters of a message and associates a key with it. This is not a compression, but a preprocessing prior to a compression. The BW transform tends to bring identical characters together, this proximity then allows increased compression (for example by RLE coding).

How to encrypt using BWT cipher?

The first step consists in listing all possible rotations of the message (of the character string).

Example:

DECODE
EDECOD
DEDECO
ODEDEC
CODEDE
ECODED

The second step is sorting this list in alphabetical order.

Example:

1CODEDE
2DECODE
3DEDECO
4ECODED
5EDECOD
6ODEDEC

The ciphered message is constituted of the last letters of each rotation. The associated key is the rank of the original message in the list.

Example: The encrypted message is EEODDC. The key is 2 (DECODE, the original text, is on the line 2 if the table).

dCode accepts only ASCII characters (without line return)

How to decrypt BWT cipher?

Decryption/Burrows Wheeler Inverse Transformation requires to know the key and the ciphered message (with N characters).

Example: The ciphertext EODC (4 characters) and the key 1

Step A: initialize an empty array with N rows and N columns.

Step B: write the encrypted message in the last empty column of the table

Step C: sort the rows of the table in alphabetical order

Repeat steps B and C as many times as there are letters in the message.

Example: State of the table after each step:

AB₁C₁B₂C₂B₃C₃B₄C₄
----
----
----
----
---E
---O
---D
---C
---C
---D
---E
---O
--EC
--OD
--DE
--CO
--CO
--DE
--EC
--OD
-ECO
-ODE
-DEC
-COD
-COD
-DEC
-ECO
-ODE
ECOD
ODEC
DECO
CODE
CODE
DECO
ECOD
ODEC

When finished, the plaintext is at the line number key of the table.

Example: At the row 1, after the last step of the algorithm, is the plain message: CODE

Why BWT is used in data-compression?

The encoded message tends to have identical sequences of letters that are repeated, which facilitates their compression (via algorithms like Run Length Encoding - RLE).

How to recognize BWT ciphertext?

The ciphered message has a high number of repeated letters and a classic index of coincidence.

The message is sometimes overencrypted with a RLE encoding.

How to decipher BWT without a key?

The key is not really important for intelligible text, because when decrypting, all lines of the table are in fact rotations of the original text.

What are the variants of the BWT cipher?

BWT can be used without a key, but in this case, a unique character of the original text and its position are needed, for instance in computer EOF character is used for last one.

What is the complexity of the BWT algorithm?

Several implementations are possible but the best ones are in $ O(n) $ for the duration and $ O(n \log \sigma) $ (or even better) for the memory. With $ n $ the input size and $ \sigma $ the size of the alphabet.

When was BWT invented?

In 1994 by Michael Burrows and David Wheeler

Source code

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Questions / Comments

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