Financial Trading at the Speed of Light

Technology has allowed the pace of financial trading to approach its theoretical limits

4 min read

Once upon a time, stock exchanges were packed with traders running, shouting, and elbowing one another on an open trading floor. Today, virtually all stock trading is done, well, virtually—through massive, globally interlinked computer systems. The rates of these transactions are now limited only by technology and, increasingly, by the speed of light. So a costly arms race has begun for telecommunications and network links that can give traders a competitive edge as small as a few tens of microseconds.

"Everyone is driving toward zero latency," says Graeme Burnett, who has worked for Deutsche Bank and ABN Amro Bank in the Netherlands and now runs Enhyper, a consultancy in England that specializes in financial engineering. "We've literally done every optimization you can imagine."

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds
DarkBlue1

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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