We say that a class of finite structures for a finite first-order signature is R-compressible for an unbounded function R on the natural numbers if each structure G in the class has a first-order description of size at most O(R(|G|)). We show that the class of finite simple groups is log-compressible, and the class of all finite groups is log-cubed compressible.
The results rely on the classification of finite simple groups, the bi-interpretability of the twisted Ree groups with finite difference fields, the existence of profinite presentations with few relators for finite groups, and group cohomology. We also indicate why the results are close to optimal.
Joint work with Katrin Tent (Israel J. of Maths, to appear).