Scientist in Angst

LONG LONG AGO I, ROSS WILLIAMS, led a tormented life creating data compression algorithms. As a child I had played with run-length coding. It all seemed innocent enough. But then, I did Huffman algorithms, and in the late 1980s I got into the really hard stuff. I dabbled with Markov algorithms and created the DHPC, SAKDC and MMDC algorithms. I tried to stop, but it was no use. I did a Ph.D. in data compression which was published as a book. Then the 1990s came and in 1991 I created the LZRW1 algorithm. But even that wasn't enough to satisfy my cravings; I found myself wanting to network with others who were doing compression and so I created the newsgroup comp.compression and attended the 1991 Data Compression Conference. But instead of calming my passion, it only sent me into a frenzy and I created LZRW1-A, LZRW2, LZRW3, LZRW3-A, LZRW4, and LZRW5 and released them on the world. I created another newsgroup (comp.compression.research) and drafted a Data Compression Interface Standard. I started receiving email about compression and answering it. Was there nothing that could cure my passion for compressing data? Aaaaarg!

Then, just when I thought all hope was gone, along came some software patents that drove a stake through the heart of the LZRW algorithms by rendering them unuseable. At last I was cured! I gave up compression and embarked on a new life, leaving behind the world of data compression forever.

Now, years later, despite the software patents, I'm still haunted by email from people from all over the world who beg for my compression algorithms, and so at great risk to my mental health, I've finally decided to get out the crowbar and open the lid of...

Dr Ross's Compression Crypt

Ross N. Williams
30 August 1997.
Copyright © Ross N. Williams 1996-1997. All rights reserved.