The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

IEEE Spectrum and Make magazines will be joining forces again in the future to call attention to the coolest and cleverest do-it-yourself projects. So if you’ve conceived and built something that you’d like to share with the combined readerships of Spectrum and Make --more than a million people--let us know about it. To enter, send a brief description of your project and include an estimate of how much it cost to build. Throw in a photo, a parts list, and a schematic. E-mail them to , or snail mail them to: Spectrum / Make DIY Contest, 3 Park Ave., 17th Floor, New York, NY 10016-5997, U.S.A. Watch this space for our announcements of dates and deadlines.

If you win, you’ll receive full coverage of your project in the print and/or online editions of both Spectrum and Make , as well as airfare and accommodations to attend the next Maker Faire. That’s Make magazine’s jamboree for do-it-yourselfers, where you will describe and demonstrate your project.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

Keep Reading ↓Show less