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Saarland’s Weickert Receives ERC Advanced Grant for Data Compression

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Joachim Weickert, professor of mathematics and informatics at Saarland University, has been awarded a European Research Council’s (ERC’s) Advanced Grant in recognition of his research to improve data compression.

Joachim WeickertThe award of up to €2.46 million ($2.69 million) over a five-year period follows Weickert’s previous Leibniz Prize and will allow him to continue his research for incorporation into future coding standards. He and his team are working on a method that needs to store only a few important pixels but is still able to reconstruct a high-quality image. Using only a very small fraction of the pixels in the original image, their technique can achieve excellent compression ratios.

“The stored pixels can be thought of as tiny air conditioners,” Weickert said. “The brighter a pixel, the higher its temperature. Just as heat diffuses through space, so too does pixel information, spreading into those neighboring areas where nothing was stored.”

Weickert has been able to show that at high compression rates techniques of this type have the potential to do better than the established standard methods such as JPEG.

“In five years' time, we want to be able to use our methods to compress 4K videos and then decompress the resulting file in real time,” Weickert said. “To do that, our algorithms need to get faster by a factor of about 100. Ten years ago, well-respected colleagues were telling me, ‘Forget it, you'll never do it.’ Then we were awarded the Leibniz Prize. And now we've received the ERC Grant.”

ERC Advanced Grants are awarded to established, leading principal investigators that need long-term funding to pursue groundbreaking, high-risk projects. They are awarded under the “excellent science” pillar of Horizon 2020, the European Union's research and innovation program.

Photonics Spectra
Jul 2017
BusinessawardsJoachim WeickertSaarland UniversityEuropean Research CouncilarcAdvanced GrantEuropean UnionHorizon 2020EUEuropeimaginglight speed

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