The October 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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iCandy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Food to fuel, tissue regeneration, and Japanese wind power

1 min read
iCandy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Photo: TPG/Getty Images

Photo: TPG/Getty Images
Worried about pesticides on your fruit and vegetables? That’s understandable, but imagine the danger faced by the guy seated in the crop duster spraying the bug-killing concoctions, who’s also breathing in a fine mist of noxious chemicals. Now farmers are avoiding that danger by sending unmanned aircraft to handle the dirty work. The agricultural drones also give farmers bird’s-eye views of fields, letting them spot problems early.

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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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