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Run-length data compression techniques are described that preserve image content. After decompression, images are restored to their original state without loss in image gray scale or resolution. The first technique introduces terminology and illustrates a simple method for efficient picture archiving. It demonstrates the principle of run-length techniques. A second more general approach encodes picture information in a manner that adapts to local variation in pixel standard deviation. Among several options of compression formats, the one that delivers the best local compression is selected. Results of our compression techniques are given for several hundred computed tomography (CT) pictures with comparison to image entropy measures. A general solution to the optimal run-length compression of digital data is outlined. Routine application of the locally optimal method is also described.