Light-based computer may parallelize 10-megabit computations

Light-based computer may parallelize 10-megabit computations

Enlarge / If everything’s set up properly, you know you have a solution when the input light results in a single point of light as the output. (credit: Robert Horn/Argonne National Laboratory)

When it comes to computation, the modern approach seems to involve an enormous bucket of bits, vigorous shaking, and not a lot of explanation of how it all works. If you ever wondered how Excel became such an abomination, now you know.

We don’t seem to have a problem creating and filling enormous buckets of bits, but shaking them up is energy-intensive and slow. Modern processors, as good as they are, simply don’t cope well with some problems. A light-based, highly parallel processor may just be the (rather bulky) co-processor that we’ve been looking for to handle these tasks.

Solutions are downhill

One way to compute a solution to a problem is called annealing. I’ve written a

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