A Julia package to quickly compress and decompress integer vectors.
Author mcovalt
6 Stars
Updated Last
2 Years Ago
Started In
June 2017


Build Status

TinyInt.jl is a Julia package for compressing integer vectors very quickly. Elements of the compressed integer vector can be accessed just as you would with a normal vector.


  • Julia 0.5 and up
  • GCC installed (Linux or macOS)
  • Windows is unsupported at this time.


julia> Pkg.add("TinyInt")
julia> Pkg.test("TinyInt")

What is TinyInt.jl?

TinyInt.jl quickly compresses and decompresses vectors of unsigned integers.

using TinyInt

x = rand(1:100, 20000000)
tinyx = pack(x)
# 160000000
# 19531282

Compression is fairly fast.

function pack_example(x)
  tinyx = pack(x)

x = rand(1:100, 20000000)
@time pack_example(x)
# 0.043057 seconds (156.52 k allocations: 32.373 MiB)

Decompression is very fast.

function unpack_example(tinyx, out)
  unpack!(tinyx, out)

tinyx = pack(rand(1:100, 20000000))
out = zeros(UInt32, 20000000)
@time unpack_example(tinyx, out)
# 0.010429 seconds (5 allocations: 784 bytes)

Additionally, individual elements can be selected, but with a bit of CPU overhead.

function select_example(x)
  y = 0
  for i = 1:length(x)
    y += x[i]

x = rand(1:100, 20000000)
tinyx = pack(x)
@time select_example(x)
# 0.009573 seconds (4 allocations: 160 bytes)
@time select_example(tinyx)
# 0.168778 seconds (4 allocations: 160 bytes)

These times are from a quad-core Intel® Core™ i7-4790 CPU @ 3.60GHz


Function Description
pack(x) Compresses integer vector and outputs compressed integer vector.
unpack(tinyx) Decompresses integer vector and outputs decompressed integer vector.
unpack!(tinyx, out) Decompresses integer vector, storing decompressed integers into out.
tinyx[i] Outputs the i'th integer from a compressed vector.
length(tinyx) Outputs the number of elements in a compressed vector.

Low-level Functions

These functions are provided in order to give developers low-level access to the chunks of the compressed array.

Function                                          Description
unpack(tinyx, chunk) Decompresses an integer vector chunk and outputs decompressed integer vector chunk.
unpack!(tinyx, out, chunk) Decompresses an integer vector chunk, storing decompressed integers into out.
Important! Ensure out is a contiguous array of 128 UInt32 integers. This function performs no bounds checking and is intended for speed critical applications.


  • The compressed vector is immutable. Once a compressed vector has been made, it's elements cannot be changed.
  • Vectors are compressed into 128 32-bit unsigned integer chunks. This aids in SIMD operations. Vector chunks less than 128 integers are padded with zeros. This additional data is negligible for large vectors, but if your integer vector contains significantly less than 128 elements, this tool is likely not for you. To avoid integer type conversion costs with unpack!, ensure the vector being overwritten is a Vector{UInt32} type.
  • The more random your elements, the less compression. There's not a great way to compress randomness.


This Julia package uses the Frame-of-Reference compression code from the SIMDComp library.