MATLAB Examples

Huffman Encoding Example

The goal of this program is to demonstrate the construction of a huffman encoding tree. The tree is represented as a binary tree using MATLAB's built in treeplot commands. Contruction of the tree as well as the huffman code book will be described in later sections.


Initial Setup

The first piece of code in this program initializes the MATLAB console by clearing all existing state (variables, figures, etc.)

% ************************
% Hufmman Coding Example
%  By Jason Agron
% ************************

% Setup the MATLAB console
clear all;
close all;

User-Defined Input

The user is able to define the string that they wish to huffman encode. The probability distribution for individual characters can either be automatically calculated based on the character's ASCII values, or can be manually inputted by the user

% Define the character string
my_str = 'jason';

Probability Calculation Flag

Flag used to enable auto-calculation of probabilities * 1 = Auto-calculate * 0 = User-defines probabilities manually

auto_prob = 1;

if (auto_prob == 1)
    % Automatically calculate the probability distribution
    % Get ASCII version of each character
    %	Each ASCII value represents the probability of finding the character
    prob_dist = double(my_str);
    % Manually define the probability distribution
    prob_dist = [10 19 30 40 50];

Encoding Bit Calculation

Calculate the number of bits to encode with. In a binary system it takes n-bits to encode 2^n items, so the number of bits to use in the huffman encoder is simply the log-base2 of the number of items to encode.

num_bits = ceil(log2(length(prob_dist)))
num_bits =


Console Output - Initial Characters and Their Respective Probabilties

Display character vs. probability

disp('Character Probability:');
for i = 1:length(prob_dist)
	display(strcat(my_str(i),' -->  ',num2str(prob_dist(i))));
total = sum(prob_dist)
Character Probability:
j -->106
a -->97
s -->115
o -->111
n -->110

total =


Initialize The Encoding Array

A cell array is used to hold the groups of symbols for encoding. The process of huffman encoding combines characters into larger symbols, and a cell is the ideal type of container for managing this type of data in MATLAB. Initialize a cell array (where each cell is a symbol)

for i = 1:length(my_str)
	sorted_str{i} = my_str(i);

% Save initial set of symbols and probabilities for later use
init_str = sorted_str;
init_prob = prob_dist;

Huffman Encoding Process

Iteratively sort and combine symbols based on their probabilities. Each iteration sorts the available symbols and then takes the two symbols with the "worst" probabilties and combines them into a single symbol for the next iteration. The loop halts when only a single symbol remains.

sorted_prob = prob_dist;
rear = 1;
while (length(sorted_prob) > 1)
	% Sort probs
	[sorted_prob,indeces] = sort(sorted_prob,'ascend');

	% Sort string based on indeces
	sorted_str = sorted_str(indeces);

	% Create new symbol
	new_node = strcat(sorted_str(2),sorted_str(1));
	new_prob = sum(sorted_prob(1:2));

	% Dequeue used symbols from "old" queue
	sorted_str =  sorted_str(3:length(sorted_str));
	sorted_prob = sorted_prob(3:length(sorted_prob));

	% Add new symbol back to "old" queue
	sorted_str = [sorted_str, new_node];
	sorted_prob = [sorted_prob, new_prob];

	% Add new symbol to "new" queue
	newq_str(rear) = new_node;
	newq_prob(rear) = new_prob;
	rear = rear + 1;

Form Huffman Tree Data

Get all elements for the tree (symbols and probabilities) by concatenating the original set of symbols with the new combined symbols and probabilities

tree = [newq_str,init_str];
tree_prob = [newq_prob, init_prob];

% Sort all tree elements
[sorted_tree_prob,indeces] = sort(tree_prob,'descend');
sorted_tree = tree(indeces);

Calculate Tree Parameters

Calculate parent relationships for all tree elements. This will allow the treeplot command to realize the correct tree structure.

parent(1) = 0;
num_children = 2;
for i = 2:length(sorted_tree)
	% Extract my symbol
	me = sorted_tree{i};

	% Find my parent's symbol (search until shortest match is found)
	count = 1;
	parent_maybe = sorted_tree{i-count};
	diff = strfind(parent_maybe,me);
	while (isempty(diff))
		count = count + 1;
		parent_maybe = sorted_tree{i-count};
		diff = strfind(parent_maybe,me);
	parent(i) = i - count;

Plot the Huffman Tree

This is easily done using the treeplot command whose argument is the array that contains the parent relationships for each node.

title(strcat('Huffman Coding Tree - "',my_str,'"'));

Console Output - Tree Symbols and Their Probabilities

Print out tree in text form

sorted_tree = 

    'jason'    'jas'    'on'    'ja'    's'    'o'    'n'    'j'    'a'

sorted_tree_prob =

   539   318   221   203   115   111   110   106    97

Tree Parameter Extraction

Extract binary tree parameters. These parameters include the (x,y) coordinates of each node so that we can accurately place label on the tree.

[xs,ys,h,s] = treelayout(parent);

Label Tree Nodes

Place labels on each tree node


Label Tree Edges

Put weights on the tree. The slope of each edge indicates whether it is a left-branch or a right-branch. Left-branches have positive slope and are labelled with a '1', while right-branches have negative slope and are labelled with a '0'. The labels for the weights are placed at the midpoint of each edge. Calculate mid-points for each node

for i = 2:length(sorted_tree)
	% Get my coordinate
	my_x = xs(i);
	my_y = ys(i);

	% Get parent coordinate
	parent_x = xs(parent(i));
	parent_y = ys(parent(i));

	% Calculate weight coordinate (midpoint)
	mid_x = (my_x + parent_x)/2;
	mid_y = (my_y + parent_y)/2;

	% Calculate weight (positive slope = 1, negative = 0)
	slope  = (parent_y - my_y)/(parent_x - my_x);
	if (slope > 0)
		weight(i) = 1;
		weight(i) = 0;

Huffman Codebook Calculation

A huffman codebook can be calculated by traversing the huffman tree while recording the weights encountered while travelling to each node. Calculate codebook

for i = 1:length(sorted_tree)
	% Initialize code
	code{i} = '';

	% Loop until root is found
	index = i;
	p = parent(index);
	while(p ~= 0)
		% Turn weight into code symbol
		w = num2str(weight(index));

		% Concatenate code symbol
		code{i} = strcat(w,code{i});

		% Continue towards root
		index = parent(index);
		p = parent(index);

Console Output - Huffman Codebook

Display code book in textual form

codeBook = [sorted_tree', code']
codeBook = 

    'jason'       ''
    'jas'      '1'  
    'on'       '0'  
    'ja'       '11' 
    's'        '10' 
    'o'        '01' 
    'n'        '00' 
    'j'        '111'
    'a'        '110'