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BigWig and BigBed: enabling browsing of large distributed datasets.

SUMMARY: BigWig and BigBed files are compressed binary indexed files containing data at several resolutions that allow the high-performance display of next-generation sequencing experiment results in the UCSC Genome Browser. The visualization is implemented using a multi-layered software approach that takes advantage of specific capabilities of web-based protocols and Linux and UNIX operating systems files, R trees and various indexing and compression tricks. As a result, only the data needed to support the current browser view is transmitted rather than the entire file, enabling fast remote access to large distributed data sets. AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: Binaries for the BigWig and BigBed creation and parsing utilities may be downloaded at Source code for the creation and visualization software is freely available for non-commercial use at, implemented in C and supported on Linux. The UCSC Genome Browser is available at

Pubmed ID: 20639541


  • Kent WJ
  • Zweig AS
  • Barber G
  • Hinrichs AS
  • Karolchik D


Bioinformatics (Oxford, England)

Publication Data

September 1, 2010

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NHGRI NIH HHS, Id: 5P41HG002371-09
  • Agency: NHGRI NIH HHS, Id: 5U41HG004568-02
  • Agency: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Id:

Mesh Terms

  • Computational Biology
  • Data Compression
  • Data Mining
  • Genomics
  • Internet
  • Software