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Sparse overcomplete representations of signals have garnered much attention during the past decade and a half. The major reasons for this interest are the high compression ratios and energy compaction being offered by these. Sparse overcomplete representations have however found application in the fields of denoising, signal source separation pattern classification and information hiding. \\The aim of this work is to look upon the various aspects of sparse overcomplete representations. This report covers a survey of the various forms of sparse recovery algorithms and details their merits and demerits. Further it proposes a sparse recovery algorithm based upon genetic algorithms. \\This is followed by a discussion of the problem of dictionary learning for sparse representations where a popular algorithm is discussed and modified to obtain improved results. Finally the applications of sparse representations are considered in the fields of pattern matching and of information hiding where a steganography algorithm based upon sparse representations is presented. To the almighty of whose grand design this is but a part