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The Viterbi Algorithm and Quantum Communications

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the sneaky-states dept.

Communications 91

eldavojohn writes "There have been a lot of tests in using quantum mechanics to communicate across large distances. But a student & a professor at USC have proven that the Viterbi algorithm can be applied to quantum communication. In the traditional Alice sends Bob a message scenario, 'Bob can reliably spot errors, and knows which message qubits are bogus before he opens the message — crucial, because opening it destroys it; and if it is garbled, he has nothing.'"

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91 comments

ugh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24469615)

Jesus! I think there's a necrotic dog penis by the front door. What the fuck?

Re:ugh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24469789)

No you're confused. That's just the best of the latest AI research.

Alice (3, Funny)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#24469653)

So . . . when is ANYTHING Alice says not garbled?

-----
Spoken like a true married man.

Re:Alice (2, Funny)

Tenrosei (1305283) | more than 5 years ago | (#24469755)

And for that matter what is the chance Alice will just say it once?

Re:Alice (5, Funny)

Osurak (1013927) | more than 5 years ago | (#24469815)

And for that matter what is the chance Alice will just say it once?

Go ask Alice. I think she'll know.

Re:Alice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24469995)

Aren't you guys talking about "Stella"?

Re:Alice (2, Funny)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470049)

Go ask Alice. I think she'll know.

Well, we are talking about QM, where logic and proportion do indeed fall sloppily dead...

Re:Alice (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470053)

She just spouts off a bunch of nonsense about a dormouse and "Feed your head". Damn hippies. You wouldn't need quantum theory to understand a true red blooded American!

Re:Alice (1)

scipiodog (1265802) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470391)

Only when she's ten feet tall.

When Eve isn't listening (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24469947)

> So . . . when is ANYTHING Alice says not garbled?

Whenever Eve isn't listening. Of course, given that our government is spying on everyone, you're right. You can simply DoS the connection by spying on them all the time.

Crap, did I just break quantum encryption?

Re:When Eve isn't listening (2, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#24471573)

I know that you are probably joking,but that is exactly why quantum communications will never take off. There is no major government in the world that will allow communications that they cannot spy on,and since doing a MitM attack on quantum breaks it they will simply never let it get past lab stage. The second anyone tries to roll something out in a big way using quantum the governments will scream "its for teh terrorists and the kiddy pr0nographers! Think of teh childrens!" and that will be the end of that. So while I think it is interesting research,I doubt you will ever see it in real life unless they figure a way to copy everything sent and received without the subjects being spyed upon knowing it. But as always this is my 02c,YMMV

Re:When Eve isn't listening (1)

TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) | more than 5 years ago | (#24472829)

With quantum communications using entagled photons there are no possibilities for any form of eavesdropping, since the photons are bonded pairs. You can't entagle photons that are separated, they must be, in essence, created as a pair, then distributed as endpoints of communication. This technology will eventually lead to the capabilities of having one centralized quantum computer that any number of users with an entaglement link to it can utilize, the power of all the worlds supercomputers accesssed in real time from your smartphone.

Re:Alice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24471957)

Alice.. Alice.. Who the f*** is AlicE??

Re:Alice (3, Funny)

neomunk (913773) | more than 5 years ago | (#24473091)

She's the chick that Bob is seeing behind Eve's back, if I understand the situation correctly.

Re:Alice (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24473549)

You're all going to die down here.

Huh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24469717)

Huh?

Third post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24469727)

How's that?

Alice 3 Bob (5, Funny)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 5 years ago | (#24469745)

I wish Alice and Bob would just go ahead and do it already. Everybody knows they have the hots for one another.

Re:Alice 3 Bob (5, Funny)

Warll (1211492) | more than 5 years ago | (#24469919)

Everybody knows they have the hots for one another.

Kids these days. When will they learn that its not worth the risk. Safe encryption should be practised all the time, not just when you feel like it.

Entangling... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24470105)

So you're suggesting Bob and Alice get entangled? That's spooky... too bad we wouldn't be able to watch.

The problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24470115)

crucial, because opening it destroys it; and if it is garbled, he has nothing.'"

In other words, Bob doesn't have a date with Alice. He is not smiling anymore.

Re:Alice 3 Bob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24470299)

That is the problem! Bob and Alice haven't met since that one night nine months ago. Bob then receives a message from Alice. He damn well knows not to open it!

Re:Alice 3 Bob (1)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470345)

Why? Is she pregnant?

Re:Alice 3 Bob (3, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470935)

oh crap, now you had to upgrade Schroodinger's cat to a fetus

Re:Alice 3 Bob (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 5 years ago | (#24474541)

Apparently they keep getting interrupted by an unwanted man in the middle.

Re:Alice 3 Bob (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 5 years ago | (#24474983)

Mayeb they could do it in a super position ? Har! har! har!

Alice? (3, Funny)

RandoX (828285) | more than 5 years ago | (#24469849)

Who the ---- is Alice?

Re:Alice? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24469911)

It's a placeholder name, like a variable named "foo"

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_and_Bob [wikipedia.org]

Re:Alice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24469979)

He's referring to lyrics to a Dutch song.

Re:Alice? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470305)

And here I assumed it was from Bob and Carole and Ted and Alice......Bob was married to Carole. Ted was married to Alice. But part of the plot was for Bob and Alice to get together......

Layne

Re:Alice? (1)

RemyBR (1158435) | more than 5 years ago | (#24471987)

Alice, who the whooosh is Alice?

Re:Alice? (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 5 years ago | (#24469937)

She's friends with Lena and, inexplicably, a teapot.

Re:Alice? (1)

Tophe (853490) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470477)

wow, teapots at every turn for me today. first Russell's teapot [wikipedia.org] , then HTTP Error 418 [ietf.org] and now Alice and Lena and a teapot. oh my.

Re:Alice? (3, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470553)

You can get anything you want at her restaurant, I know that much.

Re:Alice? (2, Funny)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 5 years ago | (#24471569)

'Cepting Alice, of course.

Re:Alice? (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#24472031)

I got a whole bunch of color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one that says otherwise.

Re:Alice? (1)

Rival (14861) | more than 5 years ago | (#24472399)

You can tell all the people with mod points are too young to know the song. They should be fined $50 dollars and have to pick up the garbage in the snow. :-)

Re:Alice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24477171)

You can get anything you want at her restaurant, I know that much.

Except Alice.

Re:Alice? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470819)

Alice is the girl Bob is cheating on his wife Eve with.

Re:Alice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24471419)

Alice is talking to Bob, while Eve is trying to eavesdrop. http://xkcd.com/177/

Re:Alice? (2, Funny)

Alpha Whisky (1264174) | more than 5 years ago | (#24473719)

Call yourself a nerd? Alice is Dilbert's violent cow-orker and Bob is a large green dinosaur they found behind the couch when they correctly deduced that dinosaurs didn't go extinct but just went into hiding. Sheesh, I thought everyone knew that.

Re:Alice? (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 5 years ago | (#24481999)

Similar to a metasyntactic variable [catb.org] , such as foo/bar/baz...

Alice and Bob [catb.org] serve as the archetype personalities in cryptographic communication examples.

Ignorant Post (1)

svnt (697929) | more than 5 years ago | (#24469857)

So as long as he doesn't open it, it might be garbled, or maybe not. Isn't the fucking cat is dead at that point?

I assume there has to be some sort of value in this discovery, but neither the summary or article seem to do a great job of expressing it.

I thought the problem with quantum mechanics was in measurement, not knowing something is bad before you measure it.

Re:Ignorant Post (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470037)

The value in this is that with these entangled photon's we can transmit data across any distance instantaneously. From here to anywhere in the universe. The only latency in the system would be in encoding and decoding the information. So you here on earth could talk to your grand children with no time delay even if they happen to be on Mars or some where around Beetleguise 4.

Re:Ignorant Post (2, Informative)

brunascle (994197) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470085)

The value in this is that with these entangled photon's we can transmit data across any distance instantaneously. From here to anywhere in the universe.

No, you cant. It would violate relativity and causality.

These quantum communication systems require a classical communication channel, which is restricted to the speed of light.

Re:Ignorant Post (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470191)

It should, but what else do you do with two particle that spin in opposite directions from each other no matter the distance inbetween?

Re:Ignorant Post (1)

ValuJet (587148) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470275)

What would happen to the spinning of one particle if it was the subject to massive time dilation from either being close to the speed of light or within the event horizon of a black hole?

Re:Ignorant Post (2, Informative)

brunascle (994197) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470309)

You cant control the direction, it's random, so you cant use it to send information. You have to set up a classical channel, and in that classical channel you tell them how to piece together the information in the quantum channel to get the message.

Re:Ignorant Post (0, Troll)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470613)

At this point. Who knows what we may figure out in time?

Look where we were 100 years ago. 200 years ago. 300. Do you get what I'm hinting at?

Re:Ignorant Post (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 5 years ago | (#24476429)

Yes. You're hinting that you didn't take any quantum mechanics classes.

Re:Ignorant Post (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#24478753)

This is true. But my point being is that we only know that we do not know everything, we don't know how much we don't know. We've made so many advancements recently, so many that I would not rule out more advancements with quantum theory.

Perhaps not having an "inside" knowledge of the theory allows me to see it abstractly - as any other science.

Re:Ignorant Post (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#24478779)

What!? Troll!?

Er.. I hope that was a mistake?

Re:Ignorant Post (1)

DShard (159067) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470321)

Describe a one time pad. The channel transmits true statistical randomness, which is the exact opposite of information.

Re:Ignorant Post (2, Informative)

closetpsycho (1175221) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470399)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_teleportation [wikipedia.org] I'm not a physicist, but from what I could gather from the wiki page, when you make the change, Bob's qubit could become 1 of 4 different states. Alice needs to send (through a classical channel) information to Bob saying what changes need to be made to his in order to get the desired outcome. If somebody is eavesdropping, all that they get are the changes, not the starting state or the final state. Thus ends today's lecture on quantum communications.

Re:Ignorant Post (2, Informative)

BungaDunga (801391) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470789)

I despise- despise- pseudo-scientific mystical mumbo-jumbo about quantum entanglement. Yes, Einstein thought it was "spooky". And it is, and the behavior of entangled photons is indeed counterintuitive and violates classical notions of probability. But it does not, as far as anyone knows, violate either the speed of light or causality. Google "tachyon pistols thought experiment" to see what would happen if it could.
The basics of entanglement are thus: Person A produces an entangled pair of particles. He sends person B one half of the pair; if they're photons, probably through fiber-optic cables. Totally classical, speed-of-light communication. Now, the weird thing is that if person A observes his particle's spin, he can predict the spin of the other one with greater than random accuracy. That's weird, because both particles' spins are determined randomly (there's no "hidden variable" determined when they were created). But you can't poke one particle and see the other particle instantly wiggle, mainly because observing them destroys the entanglement.

Re:Ignorant Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24472659)

Google "tachyon pistols thought experiment"

I did and came across this [google.com] discussion on a popular forum. Spooky!

Re:Ignorant Post (2, Informative)

TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) | more than 5 years ago | (#24472907)

No, you cant. It would violate relativity and causality. These quantum communication systems require a classical communication channel, which is restricted to the speed of light.

Actually, you are wrong, since the communication occurs along the entaglement linkage, which is in a higher order dimension than space-time, which dimension it is all depends on which version of M-theory you currently ascibe to.

Re:Ignorant Post (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24475135)

No, it would violate your perception of relativity and causality.

It is quite possible that the information could follow a pathway that actually does go all the way across the universe, but if it's at the correct angle it really doesn't take much, if any, time relative to the position on either end.

Stupid humans, still thinking that time is somehow different from distance.

Re:Ignorant Post (1)

aoeu (532208) | more than 5 years ago | (#24472223)

I think that the problem here, is how bad.

Re:Ignorant Post (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 5 years ago | (#24478265)

The cat may or may not be dead, but if you wait long enough to open the box, it'll starve anyways.

This is for deriving information from Markov sets (4, Informative)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 5 years ago | (#24469861)

For those wondering what use this has.

Say you had.... a buttload of code, and wanted to find the context free grammar for the language. You could use a Viterbi algorithm to pull out a statistically likely parse tree (the Viterbi Parse). The thing you're pulling from is often called a Markov process which is a model for the evolution of a state changing, memoryless system. So, over time, you can retrieve a grammar from a running process.

How this applies to QM is left as an exercise to the reader (5 stars, unless you're Don K His-self, in which case it's 2).

ianaqp

Re:This is for deriving information from Markov se (4, Funny)

Intron (870560) | more than 5 years ago | (#24469957)

And for those of you wondering...

Markov was Chekov's evil twin on Star Trek.

Re:This is for deriving information from Markov se (2, Informative)

einer (459199) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470087)

Just one nit to pick.

Generally, we are talking about hidden markov models. linky [wikipedia.org]

Re:This is for deriving information from Markov se (1)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470147)

You are of course, correct.

But.... that's the only nit? I shall declare this a win then. :)

Thanks

Re:This is for deriving information from Markov se (1)

hansraj (458504) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470135)

Say you had.... a buttload of code

And the imagination of slashdotters keeps on bewildering me! I salute you sir!

Re:This is for deriving information from Markov se (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24470413)

a buttload of code... why would I want a context free grammar for the goatse guy? I'm statistically likely to be disgusted.

Re:This is for deriving information from Markov se (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470591)

Uh, thanks. I'm still wondering what use this has.

Re:This is for deriving information from Markov se (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 5 years ago | (#24471271)

How much is a buttload as expressed in Metric Fucktons? I only deal in Metric.

Re:This is for deriving information from Markov se (1)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 5 years ago | (#24472129)

Depends on whether we're talking standard buttloads or metric buttloads. The standard buttload is generally measured in Rosanne Barr's. So we assume the standard 250 KLOC per buttcheek. However, the metric buttload is a moving target since, much as the yuan is pegged to the American fiat peso, the MB is pegged to Oprah Winfrey.

In short, since the current rate between between the Winfrey and the Barr is roughly 1:1, you can safely assume them to be equal. Tomorrow however, I hear that Oprah will be dining at the Old Country Buffet, so be prepared to adjust accordingly.

Re:This is for deriving information from Markov se (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#24471797)

Wouldn't the communication already be compressed, thereby removing any detectable redundancy/structure?

This could be huge (4, Interesting)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470113)

I'm not smart enough to figure out the details of what they've done, but it sounds like really promising work. "Communication" is perhaps too narrow a term for the applications, though.

A big part of the problem with building quantum computers right now is keeping the qubits stable. The real world is constantly trying to "observe" (or interfere with) the qubits. When that happens, your quantum states break down and you lose your computation. This is a bit reason why we've only been able to build small (5-qubit) machines: it's very hard to keep things isolated and stable.

If you have a practical error correction code scheme (using a Viterbi decoder, like in this article), then things might be a bit easier. Maybe instead of 5 very stable qubits, you could have 20 sort-of-stable qubits, where you expect that half of them will be lost to noise. It would still be a net win.

Re:This could be huge (3, Funny)

hansraj (458504) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470209)

A big part of the problem with building quantum computers right now is keeping the qubits stable. The real world is constantly trying to "observe" (or interfere with) the qubits. When that happens, your quantum states break down and you lose your computation. This is a bit reason why we've only been able to build small (5-qubit) machines: it's very hard to keep things isolated and stable.

[Emphasis added]

I think the qubits' behavior is very suspicious. Surely if the qubits have nothing to hide, they shouldn't have any problems!

Re:This could be huge (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470441)

Stop looking at me!

Also, there's nothing under this huge tarp. Nope. Nothing at all...

Yawn.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24470165)

Again, the engineers are behind the physicists.

Re:Yawn.... (1)

barocco (1168573) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470229)

Ah, you mean how engineers steal physicists' research papers and make money off of their ideas? Then yes literally, engineers are indeed "behind" physicists, screwing them over.

Re:Yawn.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24471865)

Well seeing how the physicists wouldn't do shit with their results other than look for more results, you can hardly blame the engineers for taking advantage of knowledge which has been released to the world... Not that I think the physicists should do something, nor is there anything wrong with how they operate, just the physicists and engineer relationship is kinda necessary the way it is. Besides, who is designing those particle accelerators?

Re:Yawn.... (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#24487989)

Ah, you mean how engineers steal physicists' research papers and make money off of their ideas? Then yes literally, engineers are indeed "behind" physicists, screwing them over.

I hope you don't really believe that.

For starters, the myth that mathematicians have ideas, which physicists steal, which engineers steal, is bogus. There's feedback in all directions. Since the way in which ideas percolate from math through physics into engineering is often talked about, I'll only talk about the reverse process. Thermodynamics, arguably the most fundamental of physical theories, was developed in the study of how to engineer better steam engines. Calculus was invented in the study of mechanics. Vector calc, likewise, came from the study of fluid flows. And in the particular example of this paper, Andrew Viterbi was in fact an electrical engineer. In fact, we are slowly recognizing that information theory -- closely related to this algorithm -- may give fundamental insights into the nature of the universe, and it was developed by Shannon, also an E.E. (Of course, Shannon was inspired partly by Gibbs, a physicist, so, again, there is no one source; there are only feedback loops.)

There's a place for everyone here, and we've got smart people in all the disciplines. We can all get along!

Actor Morgan Freeman, age 71, critical condition. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24470313)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Actor Morgan Freeman was found nearly dead in his Memphis hospital this morning [go.com] . There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Get the full Ph.D. thesis here: (4, Informative)

Falkkin (97268) | more than 5 years ago | (#24470369)

TFA is a bit short on details, as expected for a general-audience press release. In particular, they throw the word "Viterbi" out there without ever explaining what the heck it means; probably an artifact of USC containing the *Viterbi* School of Engineering. The juicy technical bits can be found in his thesis here:

Title: Quantum Coding with Entanglement
Authors: Mark M. Wilde
Thesis PDF [arxiv.org] ... and for a basic overview of the underlying concepts, of course the Wikipedia page on the Viterbi algorithm [wikipedia.org] is helpful.

Re:Get the full Ph.D. thesis here: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24471661)

Viterbi was a USC professor who made enough money from his algorithm that he donated enough to have the USC School of Engineering named after himself.

Background on Viterbi himself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24470621)

Good article about Viterbi himself is here: http://www.wirelessweek.com/article.aspx?id=160380

Screw Bob and Alice (1)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 5 years ago | (#24471057)

I just wanna know when I can have my cake and eat it too.

Re:Screw Bob and Alice (1)

mcpkaaos (449561) | more than 5 years ago | (#24472793)

If you don't mind a little bulimia you could always eat your cake and then have it.

Re:Screw Bob and Alice (1)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#24473381)

It's in the cake-box along with the cat. As soon as we know the state of the cat, we'll know the state of the cake.

Frank (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#24471731)

Frank Shoemaker would call this noise.

Re:Frank (1)

Rival (14861) | more than 5 years ago | (#24472547)

Is that you, employee #[1A]FC?

Obvious? (1)

Captain Segfault (686912) | more than 5 years ago | (#24474405)

Is it just me, or is the basic idea really rather obvious? (At least for someone with a basic understanding of both quantum computing and coding theory)

That is, it's fairly obvious you can use convolutional codes with qubits, and if you did you could use the viterbi algorithm to decode it without destroying/measuring the original qubits.

With that said, reliable communication of qubits may be particularly important for scale in quantum computing -- we can build a large quantum computer out of a network of small ones if we can reliably communicate qubits between them.

Violation of speed of light "speed limit" (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#24477029)

Ok, I've never understood this. I'm sure someone smart out there has the answer.

Say you have a pair of entangled atoms, photons, whatever - and you move one of them across the universe (assuming you could keep the entangled state) and you flip the bit on the one back home. According to what I understand about entanglement, the particle on the opposite side of the universe immediately flips as well. Doesn't this violate the basic rule that the speed of light is the speed limit for the universe?

Also, you need not move the entangled whatever across the universe; even if you moved it five feet away and it "instantly" flipped, this would still violate the laws of physics.

I'm sure I'm missing something here - what is it?

Re:Violation of speed of light "speed limit" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24481607)

Re:Violation of speed of light "speed limit" (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#24492331)

SWEET! I've been wondering about that for YEARS! Just read the first few experiments... I think I'm going to kill about 3 hours now! Thanks!
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