Because it’s Friday: Stochastic degradation

June 4, 2010
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(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

When you upload a video to YouTube, they don't store a perfect digital copy of your media file. The video is actually re-encoded into the MPEG-4 video format. This saves space on YouTube's servers, but also introduces some random degradation to the video (as a result of the lossy compression process).

So what happens if you then save that converted video, and upload it to YouTube again? The video (and audio) is degraded a little bit more. And what if you repeat that process 750 times? Here's the result:

Althouse:  I was thinking that the problem of making a copy of a copy of a copy had become a thing of the past because of digital files.

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