New hardware for solving NP-complete problems is of paramount importance in the modern theory of complexity and computation. In the new era of machine learning and quantum computing, many groups are working for realizing “annealing devices.” Ising machines are a special class that finds the minima of spin-glass Hamiltonians, as Sherrington-Kirkpatrick and Mattis models. Our recent work on a new simple and scalable Ising machine [Phys.Rev.Lett. 122, 213902(2019) and arXiv:1905.11548] has been featured in Physics.
“Photonic Ising Machines Go Big: A new optical processor for solving hard optimization problems breaks previous size records and is based on a highly scalable technology”
Quantum and classical physics can be used for mathematical computations that are hard to tackle by conventional electronics. Very recently, optical Ising machines have been demonstrated for computing the minima of spin Hamiltonians, paving the way to new ultra-fast hardware for machine learning. However, the proposed systems are either tricky to scale or involve a limited number of spins. We design and experimentally demonstrate a large-scale optical Ising machine based on a simple setup with a spatial light modulator. By encoding the spin variables in a binary phase modulation of the field, we show that light propagation can be tailored to minimize an Ising Hamiltonian with spin couplings set by input amplitude modulation and a feedback scheme. We realize configurations with thousands of spins that settle in the ground state in a low-temperature ferromagnetic-like phase with all-to-all and tunable pairwise interactions. Our results open the route to classical and quantum photonic Ising machines that exploit light spatial degrees of freedom for parallel processing of a vast number of spins with programmable couplings.
A new book on the Game of Life, and specifically on the Art of the Game of Life has been published by Springer. Edited by A. Adamatzky and Genaro J. Martinez, the book is part of the Series on Emergence, Complexity and Computation with artistic representations from simple mathematical models at the edge of physics and biology. The book contains a chapter by C. Conti on the Enlightened Game of Life.