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Scientific and statistical database systems heavily depend on data compression techniques to make possible the management and storage of their large databases. The efficiency of data compression methods has a signficant impact on the overall performance of these systems. The purpose of this paper is to show the importance of data compression to scientific/statistical databases, to discuss the pros and cons of data compression, and to survey data compression techniques relevant to scientific/statistical databases. The emphasis is on the basic idea, motivation, and tradeoffs of each approach. Both software and hardware methods are covered. The paper is concluded by a discussion of several points of research that seem worthy of further investigation.