To Crack the Toughest Optimization Problems, Just Add Lasers

An odd device known as an optical Ising machine could route airplanes and help the NFL schedule its games

10 min read
Illustration: Chad Hagen
Illustration: Chad Hagen

Last December, a glitch in the crew-scheduling system for American Airlines threatened to disrupt thousands of flights over the holiday season. The error allowed pilots to drop flights without requiring another pilot to cover for them, imperiling as many as 15,000 trips. And while the airline managed to spot the problem and staff the flights, the snafu was a reminder of how much we depend on computers to schedule the vast array of services and functions on which our societies have become completely dependent.

All major airlines, for example, use sophisticated scheduling-optimization algorithms to assign crews to planes. And while the American Airlines incident was not caused directly by the failure of one of these algorithms, the end result was much the same. Such a failure would make it likely that hundreds of thousands of people would be stranded or seriously inconvenienced while the airline sought a solution.

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Emmy Award Winner’s Algorithms Bring High-Quality Video to Your TV

He is working on making high-res images for the metaverse

5 min read
portrait of Alan Bovik
Alan Bovik

Alan Conrad Bovik’s passion for science fiction inspired him to pursue a career in engineering. His favorite sci-fi authors when he was young were Arthur C. Clarke, who penned 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Isaac Asimov, author of the Foundation series. Bovik says they wrote from a “very scientific point of view”—which made him want to help develop aerospace technology that would send humans “to other worlds.”

But he decided to study nuclear engineering in school—which then seemed like the future of energy. He discovered, however, that he didn't like the subject because it “required too much chemistry and memorization,” he says with a laugh. When he took a course in computer programming, he fell in love with it and ended up changing his major to computer engineering.

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Stretchable Artificial Nerves Help Restore Motion in Mice

New neuroprosthetic approach is more flexible and less power hungry than other designs

2 min read
illustration of a paralyzed mouse and a moving mouse

A paralyzed mouse with a spinal cord injury or motor-neuron disease [left] and a mouse that has recovered voluntary motor function by using stretchable artificial nerves [right].

Stanford University

Conventional neuroprosthetic devices that aim to help patients bypass nerve damage are often rigid and power hungry. Now scientists have developed stretchable artificial nerves that helped paralyzed mice run on a treadmill and kick a ball while consuming less than one-hundredth of the power of a typical microprocessor. The scientists suggest these artificial nerves may one day be used in the human body.

To help restore movement to patients who have suffered nerve damage from injuries or diseases, scientists are researching neuroprosthetic devices that can help relay signals from the brain to muscles or nerves. However, these systems often face a number of critical limitations, says study co–senior author Tae-Woo Lee, a materials scientist at Seoul National University.

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Harnessing the Power of Innovation Intelligence

Through case studies and data visualizations, this webinar will show you how to leverage IP and scientific data analytics to identify emerging business opportunities

1 min read
Clarivate
Clarivate

Business and R&D leaders have to make consequential strategic decisions every day in a global marketplace that continues to get more interconnected and complex. Luckily, the job can be more manageable and efficient by leveraging IP and scientific data analytics. Register for this free webinar now!

Join us for the webinar, Harnessing the power of innovation intelligence, to hear Clarivate experts discuss how analyzing IP data, together with scientific content and industry-specific data, can provide organization-wide situational awareness and reveal valuable business insights.

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