Minimizing large-scale Ising models with disorder and light: the “classical-optics advantage”

Since the 80s we know how to build optical neural networks that simulate the Hopfield model, spin-glasses, and related. New developments in optical technology and light control in random media clearly demonstrate the “optical advantage,” even while limiting to the good old classical physics.

Scalable spin-glass optical simulator

Many developments in science and engineering depend on tackling complex optimizations on large scales. The challenge motivates an intense search for specific computing hardware that takes advantage of quantum features, stochastic elements, nonlinear dissipative dynamics, in-memory operations, or photonics. A paradigmatic optimization problem is finding low-energy states in classical spin systems with fully-random interactions. To date, no alternative computing platform can address such spin-glass problems on a large scale. Here we propose and realize an optical scalable spin-glass simulator based on spatial light modulation and multiple light scattering. By tailoring optical transmission through a disordered medium, we optically accelerate the computation of the ground state of large spin networks with all-to-all random couplings. Scaling of the operation time with the problem size demonstrates an optical advantage over conventional computing. Our results provide a general route towards large-scale computing that exploits speed, parallelism, and coherence of light.

arXiv:2006.00828

Adiabatic evolution on a spatial-photonic Ising machine

Combinatorial optimization problems are crucial for widespread applications but remain difficult to solve on a large scale with conventional hardware. Novel optical platforms, known as coherent or photonic Ising machines, are attracting considerable attention as accelerators on optimization tasks formulable as Ising models. Annealing is a well-known technique based on adiabatic evolution for finding optimal solutions in classical and quantum systems made by atoms, electrons, or photons. Although various Ising machines employ annealing in some form, adiabatic computing on optical settings has been only partially investigated. Here, we realize the adiabatic evolution of frustrated Ising models with 100 spins programmed by spatial light modulation. We use holographic and optical control to change the spin couplings adiabatically, and exploit experimental noise to explore the energy landscape. Annealing enhances the convergence to the Ising ground state and allows to find the problem solution with probability close to unity. Our results demonstrate a photonic scheme for combinatorial optimization in analogy with adiabatic quantum algorithms and enforced by optical vector-matrix multiplications and scalable photonic technology.

arXiv:2005.08690

See also Super Duper Ising Machine

Topological photonic crystal fibers and ring resonators

With an exact recursive approach, we study photonic crystal fibers and resonators with topological features induced by Aubry–Andre–Harper cladding modulation. We find nontrivial gaps and edge states at the interface between regions with different topological invariants. These structures show topological protection against symmetry-preserving local perturbations that do not close the gap and sustain strong field localization and energy concentration at a given radial distance. As topological light guiding and trapping devices, they may bring about many opportunities for both fundamentals and applications unachievable with conventional devices.

Laura Pilozzi et al. Optics Letters 45, 1415 (2020)

Simulating general relativity and non-commutative geometry by nonparaxial quantum fluids

We show that quantum fluids enable experimental analogs of relativistic orbital precession in the presence of non-paraxial effects. The analysis is performed by the hydrodynamic limit of the Schroedinger equation. The non-commutating variables in the phase-space produce a precession and an acceleration of the orbital motion. The precession of the orbit is formally identical to the famous orbital precession of the perihelion of Mercury used by Einstein to validate the corrections of general relativity to Newton’s theory. In our case, the corrections are due to the modified uncertainty principle. The results may enable novel relativistic analogs in the laboratory, also including sub Planckian phenomenology.

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1367-2630/ab5da8