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The compression of visual information in the framework of multimedia applications is discussed. To this end, major approaches to compress still as well as moving pictures are reviewed. The most important objective in any compression algorithm is that of compression efficiency. High-compression coding of still pictures can be split into three categories: waveform, second-generation, and fractal coding techniques. Each coding approach introduces a different artifact at the target bit rates. The primary objective of most ongoing research in this field is to mask these artifacts as much as possible to the human visual system. Video-compression techniques have to deal with data enriched by one more component, namely, the temporal coordinate. Either compression techniques developed for still images can be generalized for three-dimensional signals (space and time) or a hybrid approach can be defined based on motion compensation. The video compression techniques can then be classified into the following four classes: waveform, object-based, model-based, and fractal coding techniques. This paper provides the reader with a tutorial on major visual data-compression techniques and a list of references for further information as the details of each method