Skip to Main Content
Compressibility of individual sequences by the class of generalized finite-state information-lossless encoders is investigated. These encoders can operate in a variable-rate mode as well as a fixed-rate one, and they allow for any finite-state scheme of variable-length-to-variable-length coding. For every individual infinite sequence a quantity is defined, called the compressibility of , which is shown to be the asymptotically attainable lower bound on the compression ratio that can be achieved for by any finite-state encoder. This is demonstrated by means of a constructive coding theorem and its converse that, apart from their asymptotic significance, also provide useful performance criteria for finite and practical data-compression tasks. The proposed concept of compressibility is also shown to play a role analogous to that of entropy in classical information theory where one deals with probabilistic ensembles of sequences rather than with individual sequences. While the definition of allows a different machine for each different sequence to be compressed, the constructive coding theorem leads to a universal algorithm that is asymptotically optimal for all sequences.