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The Burrows-Wheeler Transform between Data Compression and Combinatorics on Words


The Burrows-Wheeler Transform (BWT) is a tool of fundamental importance in Data Compression and, recently, has found many applications well beyond its original purpose. The main goal of this paper is to highlight the mathematical and combinatorial properties on which the outstanding versatility of the $BWT$ is based, i.e. its reversibility and the clustering effect on the output. Such properties have aroused curiosity and fervent interest in the scientific world both for theoretical aspects and for practical effects. In particular, in this paper we are interested both to survey the theoretical research issues which, by taking their cue from Data Compression, have been developed in the context of Combinatorics on Words, and to focus on those combinatorial results useful to explore the applicative potential of the Burrows-Wheeler Transform.