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Is it possible for a person to function as a human ZIP/RAR data compressor?

  1. Mar 21, 2012 #1
    Is it possible for a person to function as a human ZIP/RAR data compressor? Memorize a small amount of data and then use an algorithm to extract it?

    Ok so I had a friend who stole the answer-key to a huge multiple-choice final exam, which took 3 hours to complete, and must have had hundreds of questions. So I said memorizing that many letters in a row, must be harder than the test itself.

    But he had a system. Where he could memorize a relatively small amount of data. Just a paragraph. And then he could plug that paragraph into an algorithimic formula, which would extract the full pattern of answers. In effect he was functioning as a human RAR. He was memorizing 40kbs of data but compressing it into 2kbs of data, and then using a formula to extract it. He was going through the same step by step process that WINRAR goes through when it takes the compressed data of an RAR file and then unpacks it.

    So is what my friend did actually possible? Is it really possible to be a human ZIP file?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2012 #2


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    I know nothing about the technology that you mention, other than frequently receiving zip files that have to be unzipped. My understanding is that sequences of characters are memorized as a single token character. That process would still have to be applied to the entire document, not extrapolated to an unread section.
    I might be misunderstanding your question, but it seems as if he wants to just read a page or two and know the answers to the rest. Also, it seems to me that the algorithm would work only if the pattern is not random.
  4. Mar 21, 2012 #3


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    I believe your friend uses a memory system, but I don't believe it is anything like a computer data compression algorithm. The ancient Greeks invented systems for memorizing information, and people still use them today.

    Professional card players, stage magicians, etc do this all the time, without making a big deal about it.

    When I was at college I got interested in playing Go (the Japanese board game that is aguably a lot more complex than chess). There was a Japanese member of the club who was working towards the first level of professional ranking. He regularly used to play simultaneous games against 20 or 30 other club members, and then at the next club meeting a few days later replayed all the games from memory, pointing out the mistakes people had made and what they should have done instead. That involved memorizing maybe 5,000 moves over a time period of 2 or 3 hours, in "real time", with no chance to go back and review any of the information. He used to say that this was better training than only playing against the strongest people in the club, because remembering every "illogical" move made by relative beginners was more of a challenge than the moves you would expect a good player to make.

    There was a general election held while I was at college, and for a bet one of my friends (studying law) memorized the complete UK election results (i.e. the name of every candidate in every constituency, several thousand people in total, their party, and numbers of votes). His deal was that it cost a challenger a few pennies to ask him a question (with a printed set of results as a reference book), and he would buy a round of drinks for everybody in the college bar if he was wrong. He made quite a bit of money, before people realized they were never going to get a free drink that way.
  5. Mar 21, 2012 #4


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    I bought "The Memory Book", by Jerry Lucas and Harry Lorraine back in the early 70's. It worked great for me, allowing me to memorize stuff like pages in a phone book, but I forgot to finish reading it. Now I can't find it.
  6. Mar 21, 2012 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    You have nothing to back up anything you said. Overly specualtive posts are against the rules. If your friend really cheated, I hope it comes back to bite him.
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