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Viennese quantum physicist has computer programs design experiments

Photo: Robert Fickler/University of Vienna © Photo: Robert Fickler/University of Vienna

They wanted to carry out a special experiment involving the quantum physical phenomenon of entanglement. The scientists not only wanted to entangle two but several light particles (photons) with each other. “However, we did not know how to create such special quantum states“, Krenn said. 

Krenn tried using a computer because they reached the limits of their intuition. He designed a program and in addition to specified criteria, gave the program various tools enabling it to change the features of photons. “I switched on the program in the evening, and by the morning it had tried out about 400,000 different combinations, finding a viable solution in the process”, Krenn stated. It lasted another day for two people to clear out such an “incredibly complicated” proposal. In the meantime, “Melvin” carries out this step automatically. 

The researchers used the program to deal with other questions, and also received new and partially surprising answers. "Melvin" can learn from previous results, which significantly increases the chances of developing potential solutions for complicated tasks. The physicists also want to use the program to tackle more general questions in quantum physics. Krenn provided a very detailed description of "Melvin" in the publication. In this way, other physicists can create their own version of the computer program.

Service: The work was put online this week by "Physical Review Letters". It can be downloaded online at http://arxiv.org/abs/1509.02749.

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