Image compression and viewing are implemented with (1) a method for performing DWT-based compression on a large digital image with a computer system possessing a two-level system of memory and (2) a method for selectively viewing areas of the image from its compressed representation at multiple resolutions and, if desired, in a client-server environment. The compression of a large digital image I(x,y) is accomplished by first defining a plurality of discrete tile image data subsets T.sub.ij (x,y) that, upon superposition, form the complete set of image data I(x,y). A seamless wavelet-based compression process is effected on I(x,y) that is comprised of successively inputting the tiles T.sub.ij (x,y) in a selected sequence to a DWT routine, and storing the resulting DWT coefficients in a first primary memory. These coefficients are periodically compressed and transferred to a secondary memory to maintain sufficient memory in the primary memory for data processing. The sequence of DWT operations on the tiles T.sub.ij (x,y) effectively calculates a seamless DWT of I(x,y). Data retrieval consists of specifying a resolution and a region of I(x,y) for display. The subset of stored DWT coefficients corresponding to each requested scene is determined and then decompressed for input to an inverse DWT, the output of which forms the image display. The repeated process whereby image views are specified may take the form an interaction with a computer pointing device on an image display from a previous retrieval.
This invention relates to digital imaging and, more particularly, to the storage and retrieval of data contained in very large digital images. This invention was made with government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.