The October 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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iCandy: As Seen in the Movies

A bendable display, a rocket-powered bicycle, and a gun that fires only for its owner

1 min read
iCandy: As Seen in the Movies
Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Photo: Carla Thomas/NASA/Reuters
Boeing’s Phantom Eye drone, pictured here during testing in February at Edwards Air Force Base, in California, runs on liquid hydrogen. The ultraefficient unmanned aircraft carries enough fuel to stay in the air and monitor large areas for four days at a time.

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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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