Had an idea - looking for a math buff to tell me if it's possible with today's technology.

Barry Shein bzs at world.std.com
Wed May 18 19:54:34 CDT 2011


"Compression" is one result.

But this is sometimes referred to as the "inverse problem": Given a
set of data tell me a function which fits it (or fits it to some
tolerance.) It's important in statistics and all kinds of data
analyses.

Another area is fourier transforms which basically sums sine waves of
different amp/freq until you reach the desired fit. This is also the
basis of a lot of noise filtering algorithms, throw out the
frequencies you don't want, such as 60HZ or 50HZ, or all those smaller
than you consider interesting, high-freq "noise", or low freq noise,
whatever.

Another buzz term is "data entropy", randomness. If the data were
perfectly random then there exists no such function which can be
represented in less bits than the original data, which is why you
can't compress a compressed file indefinitely and also why it's
recommended you compress files before encrypting them, it's hard to
begin cracking a file which is pretty close to random.

And this is what you do when you give something like a MARC or ISBN or
Dewey Decimal index to a librarian and s/he brings you the book you
want. Effectively you've represented the entire book as that small
"number". Imagine if you had to recite the entire text of a book to
find it unambiguously! See: Transfinite Number Systems.

-- 
        -Barry Shein

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