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I've read the explanation in http://urchin.earth.li/~twic/Golomb-Rice_Coding.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golomb_coding , however, I still not get the intuition why it is efficient and when it is useful.

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The references you linked to explain the application pretty well (i.e. when the distribution of symbols follows a geometric distribution). What specifically are you having trouble understanding? –  Jason R Feb 21 '13 at 15:05

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