The October 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Holiday Gifts 2010

Still don’t know what to get for the geek who has everything?

2 min read
Tech gift
Photo: Quirky Design

This year's guide features four electronics gifts that are so much fun, your kids won't realize how much they're learning. For the grown-ups, we offer the world's geekiest clothing and accessories; the sexiest computer mouse, and a pocketknife that gives new meaning to the word switchblade. And for audiophiles of all ages, there's a musical recording studio on the cheap and a line of headphone amps that reveal not only the colors of your music but also your taste in color.


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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
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Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush
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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.

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