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: Amber Hunt/AP Photo
The man in this photo just used his thumb to pay for a snack. He’s part of a 54-person trial group at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology that’s testing the use of a biometric technology called biocryptology. A quick swipe of a finger allows the system to generate a single-use code that represents the person’s fingerprint and the hemoglobin in his or her blood. A positive ID authorizes payment from an account without the need for cash, credit cards, or personal identification numbers.

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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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