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The Spectrum Dumpling Gang

Spectrum goes inside inventor Dean Kamen's island paradise

2 min read

Dean Kamen is a throwback to the era of Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse, when a charismatic engineer- entrepreneur could be famous. And when Kamen [right], the multi millionaire inventor of the Segway, wants to escape the limelight, he flies his helicopter to his private island off the coast of Connecticut.

Kamen has allowed few journalists to see that retreat, Dumpling Island. But he did invite IEEE Spectrum’s Sally Adee and Francesco Ferorelli, along with two photographers [above], for a weekend in May. They got an exclusive preview of Kamen’s amazing digs—documented in ”Empire Off the Grid,” in this issue—which were then in the middle of a high-tech renovation.

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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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