iCandy February 2011: Tech's Medical, Musical, and Mobile Muses

Innovations for improving the way we see the brain, play music, stay connected, and travel

1 min read

Photo: Michael McElroy/The New York Times/Redux
You didn’t need a ticket to witness the 28 January performance of the New World Symphony at the New World Center in Miami Beach. The sounds of the orchestra were pumped into the evening air via 167 speakers while video of the performance was projected onto a 650-square-meter wall at an adjacent outdoor gathering space.

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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
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.

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