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how compression works

In any medium, compression programs try to find extraneous information that can be eliminated, or repetitive information that can be blurred, fudged (that’s a technical term), or combined with something else in a way that won’t drastically alter the overall file. The methods vary, depending on the media type and the specific compression algorithm.

Image compression generally works by finding similarities within the picture—mostly based on color—which can be blurred or combined. This is why heavily compressed images appear, well, blurry. The detail has all been sucked out. You can see this in the pictures above: The heavily compressed rhino has lost all its wrinkles; the JPEG compression smoothed right over them.


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