Quantum experiments designed by machines

February 22, 2016
The algorithm Melvin found out that the most simple realization can be asymmetric and therefore counterintuitive. Credit: Copyright: Robert Fickler, Universität Wien

Quantum physicist Mario Krenn and his colleagues in the group of Anton Zeilinger from the Faculty of Physics at the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have developed an algorithm which designs new useful quantum experiments. As the computer does not rely on human intuition, it finds novel unfamiliar solutions. The research has just been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

The idea was developed when the physicists wanted to create new quantum states in the laboratory, but were unable to conceive of methods to do so. "After many unsuccessful attempts to come up with an experimental implementation, we came to the conclusion that our intuition about these phenomena seems to be wrong. We realized that in the end we were just trying random arrangements of quantum building blocks. And that is what a computer can do as well - but thousands of times faster", explains Mario Krenn, PhD student in Anton Zeilinger's group and first author research.

After a few hours of calculation, their algorithm - which they call Melvin - found the recipe to the question they were unable to solve, and its structure surprised them. Zeilinger says: "Suppose I want build an experiment realizing a specific I am interested in. Then humans intuitively consider setups reflecting the symmetries of the state. Yet Melvin found out that the most simple realization can be asymmetric and therefore counterintuitive. A human would probably never come up with that solution."

The physicists applied the idea to several other questions and got dozens of new and surprising answers. "The solutions are difficult to understand, but we were able to extract some new experimental tricks we have not thought of before. Some of these computer-designed experiments are being built at the moment in our laboratories", says Krenn.

Melvin not only tries random arrangements of experimental components, but also learns from previous successful attempts, which significantly speeds up the discovery rate for more complex solutions. In the future, the authors want to apply their algorithm to even more general questions in quantum physics, and hope it helps to investigate new phenomena in laboratories.

Explore further: Paving the way for a faster quantum computer

More information: Mario Krenn, Mehul Malik, Robert Fickler, Radek Lapkiewicz, Anton Zeilinger: Automated Search for new Quantum Experiments, Physical Review Letters, 22 February, 2016 arxiv.org/abs/1509.02749

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TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2016
Hmmm hmmm hmmm so if a machine designs the experiment and robots construct the equipment and an AI interprets the results and detects waveform collapse, and only then tells some human about it, who needs humans to collapse the waveform?

What if the AI publishes a paper autonomously which is only read some years later, would this mean that the waveform didn't collapse until that time?

OR... would the AI never detect a waveform collapse by itself? If it published the paper which recorded as such, and then a human read the paper, could the computer reanalyse the data and find that the waveform had collapsed after all?

What if it wasn't a human but an ape which had been trained to expect a banana if he detected the signature of a waveform collapse, just like a human is trained to do so?

What if the AI told an untrained human that it had detected waveform collapse and the human told him he didn't understand? What if this human subsequently learned what collapse was?
EyeNStein
5 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2016
While they are at it the computers could do for the standard model particles in space and time what Gell-Mann did for the particle zoo.
The current treatment of the quantum particle fields as if they were added into space and time like a tube of different colour smarties can not be the end of the story.

Perhaps our brains are not up to the unaided task of conceptualising a space of various multi-dimensional folded and tangled constructions, then conceiving how it can be folded and spun in 4 different ways that do not untangle or radiate their energy away.

We must have enough clues by now to work out what is happening behind the "quantum curtain" especially now that we have shown that space can be distorted and curved by a force that must eventually unify with the other three forces- And that entanglement connects two "local realities" as if they are joined by a wormhole behind "the curtain".
ppnlppnl
5 / 5 (3) Feb 22, 2016
Melvin - brain the size of a planet and they ask him to do random quantum calculations. I'm sure he is so depressed.
Hyperfuzzy
not rated yet Feb 23, 2016
Depends, what is the algorithm based. Upon 2 particles and Maxwell or some random QM state?
danR
not rated yet Mar 17, 2016
If experimental designs are predicated on the Copenhagen model/interpretation/whatever, would the computer miss a setup that could substantiate/falsify the de Broglie Bohm theory?

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