Mathematics and computer scientist Abraham Lempel died at the age of 86 in Israel, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported Monday. As the newspaper notes, one of Professor Lempel's greatest achievements was the development of data compression algorithms that later became the basis of many modern file formats, including MP3, ZIP and PDF.
Born in 1936 in Lvov, Lempel later immigrated to Israel where he studied at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, one of the oldest universities in the country, located in Haifa. He received his bachelor's degree there in 1963, became a master's degree in 1965, was awarded a doctorate in engineering in 1967, and became a professor in 1977. In the 1990s and 2000s he was the longtime head of the HP laboratory in Israel.
Among his most important scientific contributions were co-authored works on lossless data compression algorithms in 1977 and 1978 with the Israeli mathematician Yaacov Ziv. The data conversion method they described was named the Lempel-Ziv method after them, and the family of algorithms was designated LZ (LZ77, LZ78, LZW, etc.).
As Yedioth Ahronoth notes, Lempel and Ziv's developments formed the basis for a number of subsequent data compression formats that are widely used today, including TIFF, PNG, ZIP, GIF, and were particularly important in the creation of PDF and MP3 formats. Many modern data compression technologies used in the memory modules of electronic devices are also developed on the basis of this algorithm, the publication points out.