Borrowing from Physics and Art for Improved Compression
The ability to compress information is becoming more and more invaluable as more applications require massive amounts of data. For example, some medical tests require analyzing millions of cells while they stream by, in real time and not every computer can handle it. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have recently developed a new compression technique which should help with that though, and it relies on anamorphism.
Anamorphism is an artistic technique dating back to the sixteenth century and involves morphing images to create optical illusions. It is also used in film to fit wide images onto narrow frames. The UCLA researchers developed the anamorphic stretch transform (AST) algorithm in order to stretch and warp both analog and digital signals. By stretching the important information, it can be preserved even while a great compression ratio is achieved. That ratio can even surpass that of JPEG compression for images.
Part of the reason the researchers developed this new technique was because of prior work of theirs that led to medical testing that could produce more data than some equipment could process. With this compression, it should be possible to record and digitize analog signals that are faster than the sensor and digitizer, while reducing the bulk of data produced as well.