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NTT Research and University of Notre Dame Collaborate to Explore Continuous-Time Analog Computing

By IQT News posted 16 Sep 2020

(OneNewsPage) NTT Research, Inc., a division of NTT announced that it has reached an agreement with the University of Notre Dame to conduct joint research between its Physics and Informatics (PHI) Lab and the University’s Department of Physics. The five-year agreement covers research to be undertaken by Dr. Zoltán Toroczkai, a professor of theoretical physics, on the limits of continuous-time analog computing which now figures within some emerging quantum information systems. Because the Coherent Ising Machine (CIM), an optical device that is key to the PHI Lab’s research agenda, exhibits characteristics related to those of analog computers, one purpose of this project is to explore avenues for improving CIM performance.
The three primary fields of the PHI Lab include quantum-to-classical crossover physics, neural networks and optical parametric oscillators. The work with Dr. Toroczkai addresses an opportunity for tradeoffs in the classical domain between analog computing performance and controllable variables with arbitrarily high precision. Interest in analog computing has rebounded in recent years thanks to modern manufacturing techniques and the technology’s efficient use of energy, which leads to improved computational performance. Implemented with the Ising model, analog computing schemes now figure within some emerging quantum information systems. Special-purpose, continuous time analog devices have been able to outperform state-of-the-art digital algorithms, but they also fail on some classes of problems. Dr. Toroczkai’s research will explore the theoretical limits of analog computing and focus on two approaches to achieving improved performance using less precise variables, or (in the context of the CIM) a less identical pulse amplitude landscape.
“We’re very excited to have the University of Notre Dame and Professor Toroczkai, a specialist in analog computing, join our growing consortium of researchers engaged in rethinking the limits and possibilities of computing,” said NTT Research PHI Lab Director Yoshihisa Yamamoto. “We see his work at the intersection of hard, optimization problems and analog computing systems that can efficiently solve them as very promising.”
The agreement identifies research subjects and project milestones between 2020 and 2024. It anticipates Dr. Toroczkai and a graduate student conducting research at Notre Dame, adjacent to South Bend, Indiana, while collaborating with scientists at the PHI Lab in California. Recent work by Dr. Toroczkai related to this topic includes publications in Computer Physics Communications and Nature Communications. Like the PHI Lab itself, he brings to his research both domain expertise and a broad vision.

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