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Computer that can solve problems traditional computers cannot

Processing power of standard computers is likely to reach its maximum in the next 10 to 25 years. Even at this maximum power, traditional computers would not be able to handle a particular class of problems that involve combining variables to come up with many possible answers, and looking for the best solution. Combining optical and electronic technology, Stanford researchers have made a new type of computer that can solve problems that are a challenge for traditional computers.

This new type of computer, which blends optical and electrical processing, could get around this impending processing constraint and solve those problems. If it can be scaled up, this non-traditional computer could save costs by finding more optimal solutions to problems that have an incredibly high number of possible solutions.

Peter McMahon, post-doctoral scholar in applied physics and co-author of the paper, says, “This is a machine that is in a sense the first in its class, and the idea is that it opens up a sub-field of research in the area of non-traditional computing machines.”

Post-doctoral scholar Peter McMahon (left) and visiting researcher Alireza Marandi (right) examine a prototype of the new type of light based computer
(Image courtesy: http://news.stanford.edu)
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