How quantum physics could make 'The Matrix' more efficient

Mar 29, 2012
Quantum simulations need to store less information to predict the future than do classical simulations. The finding applies to phenomena described by stochastic processes. Credit: Mile Gu / Center for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

Researchers have discovered a new way in which computers based on quantum physics could beat the performance of classical computers. The work, by researchers based in Singapore and the UK, implies that a Matrix-like simulation of reality would require less memory on a quantum computer than on a classical computer. It also hints at a way to investigate whether a deeper theory lies beneath quantum theory. The finding is published 27 March in Nature Communications.

The finding emerges from fundamental consideration of how much information is needed to predict the future. Mile Gu, Elisabeth Rieper and Vlatko Vedral at the Centre for at the National Univesity of Singapore, with Karoline Wiesner from the University of Bristol, UK, considered the simulation of "stochastic" processes, where there are several possible outcomes to a given procedure, each occurring with a calculable probability. Many phenomena, from stock market movements to the diffusion of gases, can be modelled as stochastic processes.

The details of how to simulate such processes have long occupied researchers. The minimum amount of information required to simulate a given stochastic process is a significant topic of study in the field of complexity theory, where it is known in scientific literature as statistical complexity.

Researchers know how to calculate the amount of information transferred inherently in any stochastic process. Theoretically, this sets the lowest amount of information needed to simulate the process. In reality, however, classical simulations of stochastic processes require more storage than this.

Gu, Wiesner, Rieper and Vedral, who is also affiliated with the University of Oxford, UK, showed that quantum simulators need to store less information than the optimal classical simulators. That is because quantum simulations can encode information about the probabilities in a "superposition", where one of information can represent more than one classical bit.

What surprised the researchers is that the quantum simulations are still not as efficient as they could be: they still have to store more information than the process would seem to need.

That suggests might not yet be optimized. "What's fascinating to us is that there is still a gap. It makes you think, maybe here's a way of thinking about a theory beyond ," says Vedral.

Explore further: New research signals big future for quantum radar

More information: For further details, see "Quantum mechanics can reduce the complexity of classical models" Nature Communications, 3, 762 (2012). www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/… full/ncomms1761.html

A preprint is available at arXiv:1102.1994 arxiv.org/abs/1102.1994

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Quantum copies do new tricks

Mar 22, 2012

One of the strange features of quantum information is that, unlike almost every other type of information, it cannot be perfectly copied. For example, it is impossible to take a single photon and make a number of photons ...

Optical chip enables new approach to quantum computing

Sep 16, 2010

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bristol has developed a new approach to quantum computing that could soon be used to perform complex calculations that cannot be done ...

Recommended for you

New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

Feb 27, 2015

University of Utah engineers have discovered a new approach for designing filters capable of separating different frequencies in the terahertz spectrum, the next generation of communications bandwidth that ...

The super-resolution revolution

Feb 27, 2015

Cambridge scientists are part of a resolution revolution. Building powerful instruments that shatter the physical limits of optical microscopy, they are beginning to watch molecular processes as they happen, ...

Precision gas sensor could fit on a chip

Feb 27, 2015

Using their expertise in silicon optics, Cornell engineers have miniaturized a light source in the elusive mid-infrared (mid-IR) spectrum, effectively squeezing the capabilities of a large, tabletop laser onto a 1-millimeter ...

A new X-ray microscope for nanoscale imaging

Feb 27, 2015

Delivering the capability to image nanostructures and chemical reactions down to nanometer resolution requires a new class of x-ray microscope that can perform precision microscopy experiments using ultra-bright ...

New research signals big future for quantum radar

Feb 26, 2015

A prototype quantum radar that has the potential to detect objects which are invisible to conventional systems has been developed by an international research team led by a quantum information scientist at the University ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Argiod
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 29, 2012
Wouldn't it be funny if it turned out that we are all living in a Matrix-like simulated universe? What if we aren't really here? What if our whole world is a simulacrum in some cosmic computer?

He who laughs last, laughs best. Is that God I hear chuckling in the etherial background?
Jason Chapman
3 / 5 (2) Mar 30, 2012
Argiod, if that's your real name, or is it agent Smith.
Regards Neo

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.