The February 2023 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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iCandy: Imitation of Life

Robots run, swim, act, and fight like us

1 min read

Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images
An engineer at Hitachi shows off a portable brain-machine interface that uses an optical sensor to detect changes in blood flow in the prefrontal cortex. Researchers at the electronics firm and at Japan’s Tohoku University developed the neuroimaging device with the aim of giving people the ability to control electronic gadgets with their thoughts. The researchers expect a commercial version to be available within five years.

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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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