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The Engineers of Comedy

Six high-tech comics share their best jokes

3 min read
The Engineers of Comedy

You rarely see the words engineering and comedy together in a job résumé. But these stand-up comics found new careers mining old lives in technology. Collectively, they've appeared in movies and television shows, but it's only at corporate events held by the likes of Apple, Genentech, and Intel that they can joke in shorthand. "Engineers have minds that break things into components and see connections between parts," explains comic Wayne Cotter. "Comics apply the same kind of analysis to everyday life."

"In two years, supermarket shopping carts are going to have TV sets in them. I read this. Someone has cracked the problem of getting a TV into a shopping cart. Is that a priority? I'll tell you what. How about we get the fourth wheel to work first, then we start thinking about the TV."

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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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