dithering

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(n.) A form of smart conversion from a higher bit depth to a lower bit depth used in audio and graphics files. The process attempts to improve the perceived quality of onscreen graphics when the color palette is reduced. In the conversion from 24-bit color to 8-bit color (in which millions of colors are reduced to 256 colors), dithering adds patterns of different-colored pixels to simulate the original color. The technique is also known as error diffusion and is applied to both audio bit rate reduction and graphics resolution.

dithered image