An anonymous reader tips an account up at Wired of a hot new field of mathematics and applied algorithm research called "compressed sensing" that takes advantage of the mathematical concept of sparsity to recreate images or other datasets from noisy, incomplete inputs. "[The inventor of CS, Emmanuel] Candès can envision a long list of applications based on what he and his colleagues have accomplished. He sees, for example, a future in which the technique is used in more than MRI machines. Digital cameras, he explains, gather huge amounts of information and then compress the images. But compression, at least if CS is available, is a gigantic waste. If your camera is going to record a vast amount of data only to throw away 90 percent of it when you compress, why not just save battery power and memory and record 90 percent less data in the first place? ... The ability to gather meaningful data from tiny samples of information is also enticing to the military."