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Masi Oka: Acting Like a Nerd

The graphics programmer and "Hawaii Five-0" actor channels his inner geek

3 min read

Masi Oka has reached cult status playing lovable but geeky social maladjusts on NBC’s "Heroes" and more recently, CBS’s new "Hawaii Five-0." It’s a role he knows well. When he isn’t in front of a camera, he’s in front of a computer writing visual effects or gaming code.

Since graduating from Brown University, where he majored in math/computer science and minored in theater arts, Oka has managed dual careers as a programmer and an actor. He spent years as a visual effects coder and consultant for Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) on such films as The Perfect Storm, Terminator 3, and Pirates of the Caribbean, and he is now developing a number of video games.

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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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