Unconventional computing with optical simulation of spin Hamiltonians

Guest Edited by Natalia Berloff (University of Cambridge, UK) and Prof Alireza Marandi (California Institute of Technology, USA), in collaboration with our Editorial Board Member Prof Mohammad Ali Miri (City University of New York, USA).

Lattice spin models, e.g., XY, Ising and Potts models, are widely utilized in statistical mechanics and in condensed matter physics for exploring magnetism. These models are important tools for exploring phase transitions and critical phenomena. In addition, spin Hamiltonians have been celebrated in the context of computer science as interesting models that can represent a large range of computationally-hard optimization problems. Subsequently, over the years there has been an interest in realizing physical systems that are governed by spin-like Hamiltonians for unconventional computing applications.

In recent years, several works revealed that networks of coupled optical oscillators, e.g., lasers and optical parametric oscillators, show a great promise for emulating a classical spin model. In such systems, the evolution of the oscillator network is toward an equilibrium amplitude and phase pattern that could represent the ground state of the corresponding spin model Hamiltonian. This Collection aims to curate, as a single resource, interesting research articles on the subject of “Unconventional Computing with Optical Simulation of Spin Hamiltonians” from a broad pool of scientists and accelerate the formation of a roadmap for future research directions of the field.


Mohammad-Ali Miri is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He earned his Ph.D. in Optics from CREOL, the Center for Optics and Photonics, at the University of Central Florida in 2014 and before joining CUNY he worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering of the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests are in the broad areas of optics and photonics, nonlinear optics and optical computing with a focus on exploring the dynamics of light in complex nonlinear and dissipative systems.

Natalia Berloff is a Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. Her research interests include quantum fluids, out-of-equilibrium systems, Bose-Einstein condensates, unconventional computing. She developed the concept of polaritonic XY-Ising machines.

Alireza Marandi is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics at Caltech. He received his PhD from Stanford University in 2013. Before joining Caltech he held positions as a postdoctoral scholar and a research engineer at Stanford, a visiting scientist at the National Institute of Informatics in Japan, and a senior engineer in the Advanced Technology Group of Dolby Laboratories. Marandi is a Senior Member of OSA and IEEE and has been the recipient of NSF CAREER award, the AFOSR YIP award, and the Young Scientist Prize of the IUPAP. He is named the 2019 KNI-Wheatley Scholar.