Small Is Big in Notebooks--but Not Too Small

Ultralight computers add back a few more ounces and a lot more usability

3 min read

A lot of road warriors have learned, much to their chagrin, that a notebook computer can indeed be too light or too thin. Shrink one much below 1.8 kilograms (4 pounds)—the class known as ultralight—and it gets maddeningly hard to use for much more than e-mail or Web browsing.

That’s why manufacturers have recently begun reemphasizing a slightly larger breed—call them notâ''quite-ultralights. These machines sport displays of at least 13 inches; fuller, if not full-size, keyboards; built-in optical drives; Ethernet and other ports; and more processing power than their rail-thin predecessors.

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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

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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