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as we have discussed them in this section come even close to finding such short descriptions. And as a result, at least with respect to any of these methods all we can reasonably say is that the behavior we see seems for practical purposes random.

Irreversible Data Compression

All the methods of data compression that we discussed in the previous section are set up to be reversible, in the sense that from the encoded version of any piece of data it is always possible to recover every detail of the original. And if one is dealing with data that corresponds to text or programs such reversibility is typically essential. But with images or sounds it is typically no longer so necessary: for in such cases all that in the end usually matters is that one be able to recover something that looks or sounds right. And by being able to drop details that have little or no perceptible effect one can often achieve much higher levels of compression.

In the case of images a simple approach is just to ignore features that are smaller than some minimum size. The pictures below show

Captions on this page:

The effect of including progressively smaller features in the representation of images by nested squares. The encoded version of each image is shown underneath the image. When smaller squares are included, the amount of data required to specify the image increases rapidly.

From Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science [citation]