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THE REALITY OF SILICON VALLEY [POPULAR SCIENCE, May 2014]
When Mike Judge, creator of Office Space and Beavis and Butt-head, set out to write his HBO comedy series, Silicon Valley, about Bay Area coders, he wanted to conceive a simple, believable widget for his characters to invent. So he teamed with Stanford electrical engineering professor Tsachy Weissman
and Ph.D. student Vinith Misra; they came up with a superfast compression algorithm.
Data compression makes files—text, music, movies— smaller and more transmissible. The best algorithms are fast but don’t harm fidelity. For the show, Weissman and Misra devised a fictional algorithm that excels at just that. The writers coined a metric, the “Weissman Score,” for characters to use when comparing compression codes.
Researchers are always refining compression. Last year, for instance, UCLA unveiled a way to save images more efficiently than JPEGs do. So something like what’s in Silicon Valley, which is more than two times faster than current models, is possible. “New, effective ways of compression are out there,” says Weissman. ADAM HADHAZ
The 2014 IEEE North American Summer School of Information Theory will take place June 18-21, 2014 at the Fields Institute in Toronto, Canada. Applications are now open
Volume I was published in 1993 edited by Neil Sloane and Aaron Wyner.
Volume II (consisting of unpublished miscellaneous manuscripts) has just been made available by Neil Sloane.
Thanks to Matthieu Bloch, the various manuscripts can be individually accessed from
Claude Shannon’s acceptance speech “Development of Communication and Computing, and my Hobby”