A standard (or norm) is a specification which has been adopted by those working within a particular field, in order to describe a process in an organized manner. In the case of data compression, the use of standards is particularly important as the compression process aims at the creation of an intermediary form of the information, which is more compact, and therefore easier to send over communication networks, to store and to receive. In other words the compressed form is not an end in itself; it is only an intermediary between a creation process and usage. It is therefore essential that this intermediary form or, if required, the means of access to this form conforms to specifications which ensure a smooth interaction between creation and usage.
A second motivating factor is the necessary life-span of the information. The existence of standards recognized by international bodies is a guarantee of the endurance of compressed data, and the continuation of the programs which create and read them.
Here, it is of interest to look specifically at medical data (see Chapter 3), compared to other computerized data. Does this field require the creation of specific standards, uniquely for the compression of medical data, in particular images? We can anticipate two different views on this matter.
Firstly, from a theoretical perspective, it seems desirable to keep the use of specific standards to a minimum, both for reasons ...