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iCandy: With the Greatest of Ease

Greater gadgets for vending, viewing, and vacationing

1 min read

Photo: Peter Karlsson Svarteld/Saab
An air traffic controller at the Sundsvall-Härnösand Airport, in Sweden, monitors a screen capable of offering a 360-degree view of Örnsköldsvik Airport, 125 kilometers away. Saab, best known for its cars, has developed a system featuring special cameras and video tracking software that will allow controllers to run both airports from the Sundsvall facility.

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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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