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### Section 7: Boolean Entropy Decoder {#h-07-00}
As discussed in the overview above, essentially the entire VP8 data
stream is encoded using a boolean entropy coder.
An understanding of the `bool_decoder` is critical to the
implementation of a VP8 decompressor, so we discuss the `bool_decoder`
in detail. It is easier to comprehend the `bool_decoder` in
conjunction with the `bool_encoder` used by the compressor to write
the compressed data partitions.
The `bool_encoder` encodes (and the `bool_decoder` decodes) one bool
(zero-or-one boolean value) at a time. Its purpose is to losslessly
compress a sequence of bools for which the probability of their being
zero or one can be well-estimated (via constant or previously coded
information) at the time they are written, using identical
corresponding probabilities at the time they are read.
As the reader is probably aware, if a bool is much more likely to be
zero than one (for instance), it can, on average, be faithfully
encoded using much less than one bit per value. The `bool_encoder`
exploits this.
In the 1940s, [Shannon] proved that there is a lower bound for the
average datarate of a faithful encoding of a sequence of bools (whose
probability distributions are known and are independent of each
other) and also that there are encoding algorithms that approximate
this lower bound as closely as one wishes.
If we encode a sequence of bools whose probability of being zero is p
(and whose probability of being 1 is 1-p), the lowest possible
datarate per value is
p*log(p) + (1-p)*log(1-p);
taking the logarithms to the base 1/2 expresses the datarate in
We give two simple examples. At one extreme, if p = 1/2, then log(p)
= log(1-p) = 1, and the lowest possible datarate per bool is 1/2 +
1/2 = 1; that is, we cannot do any better than simply literally
writing out bits. At another extreme, if p is very small, say p =
1/1024, then log(p)=10, log(1-p) is roughly .0014, and the lowest
possible datarate is approximately 10/1024 + .0014, roughly 1/100 of
a bit per bool.
Because most of the bools in the VP8 datastream have zero-
probabilities nowhere near 1/2, the compression provided by the
`bool_encoder` is critical to the performance of VP8.
The boolean coder used by VP8 is a variant of an arithmetic coder.
An excellent discussion of arithmetic coding (and other lossless
compression techniques) can be found in [Bell].