A fast and low memory image coding algorithm based on lifting wavelet transform and modified SPIHT

Hong Pan, Wan Chi Siu, Ngai Fong Law

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Due to its excellent rate-distortion performance, set partitioning in hierarchical trees (SPIHT) has become the state-of-the-art algorithm for image compression. However, the algorithm does not fully provide the desired features of progressive transmission, spatial scalability and optimal visual quality, at very low bit rate coding. Furthermore, the use of three linked lists for recording the coordinates of wavelet coefficients and tree sets during the coding process becomes the bottleneck of a fast implementation of the SPIHT. In this paper, we propose a listless modified SPIHT (LMSPIHT) approach, which is a fast and low memory image coding algorithm based on the lifting wavelet transform. The LMSPIHT jointly considers the advantages of progressive transmission, spatial scalability, and incorporates human visual system (HVS) characteristics in the coding scheme; thus it outperforms the traditional SPIHT algorithm at low bit rate coding. Compared with the SPIHT algorithm, LMSPIHT provides a better compression performance and a superior perceptual performance with low coding complexity. The compression efficiency of LMSPIHT comes from three aspects. The lifting scheme lowers the number of arithmetic operations of the wavelet transform. Moreover, a significance reordering of the modified SPIHT ensures that it codes more significant information belonging to the lower frequency bands earlier in the bit stream than that of the SPIHT to better exploit the energy compaction of the wavelet coefficients. HVS characteristics are employed to improve the perceptual quality of the compressed image by placing more coding artifacts in the less visually significant regions of the image. Finally, a listless implementation structure further reduces the amount of memory and improves the speed of compression by more than 51% for a 512×512 image, as compared with that of the SPIHT algorithm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-161
Number of pages16
JournalSignal Processing: Image Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008


  • Lifting wavelet transform
  • Listless SPIHT
  • Low bit rate image compression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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