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The Collaborative International Dictionary
lossy compression

Compression \Com*pres"sion\, n. [L. compressio: cf. F. compression.]

  1. The act of compressing, or state of being compressed. ``Compression of thought.''
    --Johnson.

  2. (Computers) reduction of the space required for storage (of binary data) by an algorithm which converts the data to a smaller number of bits while preserving the information content. The act of compressing [3].

    Note: Compression may be lossless compression, in which all of the information in the original data is preserved, and the original data may be recovered in form identical to its original form; or lossy compression, in which some of the information in the original data is lost, and decompression results in a data form slightly different from the original. Lossy compression is used, for example, to compress audio or video recordings, and sometimes images, where the slight differences in the original data and the data recovered after lossy compression may be imperceptable to the human eye or ear. The JPEG format is produced by a lossy compression algorithm.

lossy compression

lossy compression \los"sy com*pres"sion\, n. (Computers) The compression of binary data into a form which, when it is re-expanded, has most, but not all, of the original information. It is used primarily for compression of images and sounds, and is designed to provide a high degree of compression at the cost of a slight loss of data. It is expemplified by the JPEG compression standard. Images compressed by a lossy compression algorithm are re-expanded into an image close, but not identical to the original image; the difference between the original and the reconstructed image may be imperceptible to normal viewing by the eye.

Wikipedia
Lossy compression

In information technology, lossy compression or irreversible compression is the class of data encoding methods that uses inexact approximations and partial data discarding to represent the content. These techniques are used to reduce data size for storage, handling, and transmitting content. Different versions of the photo of the cat at the right show how higher degrees of approximation create coarser images as more details are removed. This is opposed to lossless data compression (reversible data compression) which does not degrade the data. The amount of data reduction possible using lossy compression is often much higher than through lossless techniques.

Well-designed lossy compression technology often reduces file sizes significantly before degradation is noticed by the end-user. Even when noticeable by the user, further data reduction may be desirable (e.g., for real-time communication, to reduce transmission times, or to reduce storage needs).

Lossy compression is most commonly used to compress multimedia data ( audio, video, and images), especially in applications such as streaming media and internet telephony. By contrast, lossless compression is typically required for text and data files, such as bank records and text articles. In many cases it is advantageous to make a master lossless file which is to be used to produce new compressed files; for example, a multi-megabyte file can be used at full size to produce a full-page advertisement in a glossy magazine, and a 10 kilobyte lossy copy can be made for a small image on a web page.