Google Finds A Way To Shrink JPEGs By 35 Percent

18 March, 2017, 00:56 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • Google's new algorithm shrinks JPEG files by 35 percent

As compression increases, the file size reduces but more artifacts enter the image.

The prize may be worth the effort: JPEG, long since the victor the image format wars of the late 1990s, now joins PNG in accounting for 73% of all content in websites - petabytes of data on a rolling basis, largely using technologies and standards which have not changed in almost twenty years. A comparison test of images created by Guetzli and the popular libjpeg JPEG generation library found human testers prefer the Guetzli images.

Guetzli is an open source JPEG encoder developed by Google Research, and the algorithm it employs can produce JPEGs that are 35 percent smaller while retaining the same level of clarity. "We think this makes the slower compression a worthy tradeoff". "However, while Guetzli creates smaller image file sizes, the tradeoff is that these search algorithms take significantly longer to create compressed images than now available methods".

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The encoding process for a JPEG can be broken down into six distinct parts: color space transformation, downsampling, block splitting, discrete cosine transform, quantization, and entropy coding. Guetzli works by producing multiple candidates of compressed JPEGs and then comparing them to see which is best.

The algorithm has been released as open source, as it's naturally in Google's own interest to cut down data use online. Mozilla, maker of the Firefox web browser, began a project in 2014 called Mozjpeg created to improve on standard compression engines. Last, we hope that the new explicitly psychovisual approach in Guetzli will inspire further image and video compression research. Right, Guetzli compression. Credit: Google. Because it is more complex than existing encoders, it takes "significantly" longer to complete compression. The company performed experiments where images of equal file size were shown to study participants who consistently prefered the imaged compressed using Guetzli. "Guetzli is rather slow to encode", the researchers said, suggesting it's most likely useful on image-heavy websites.

For more details on the nitty-gritty of how Guetzli actually accomplishes the improved encoding (it apparently involves "psychovisual models") check out the Google Research Blog and the published paper on Guetzli.


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