DELIMINATE: comparison with gzip, bzip2, and zip

Yesterday, I saw an abstract in my RSS feed for a new compression algorithm called DELIMINATE. Two things from the abstract caught my attention. First, it claimed to be lossless—I’ve seen abstracts for lossy compression algorithms before, but honestly I have no interest in introducing any additional error into any Illumina data, whose quality is already somewhat crappy. It also claimed improvements in compression speed and compression ratio.

I figured I would give the software a try. The download process was nearly painless (I did have to provide my name and email), and the software “just worked” as advertised out-of-the-box. I was able to confirm that the compression is indeed lossless, and that the compression speed and ratio is indeed superior to all the other commonly-used compression programs/algorithms (I recorded a terminal session of the tests in this asciicast). The decompression time, however, was quite a bit slower than all the alternatives. This, in addition to the practical consideration of installing yet another compression program on every single computer you use frequently (and forcing my colleagues to do the same), is the only hesitation I have regarding DELIMINATE.

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