Semiconductor Lasers Generate Better Random Numbers

Random numbers — numbers without any pattern — are vital to many applications, such as computer simulations, statistics, and cryptography. There are many ways to generate them using unpredictable physical processes, including electric-signal noise and radioactive decay, but these methods cannot produce the quantities of numbers needed to keep up with the high data-processing rates of today’s computers. A group of scientists seems to have discovered a way around this problem. They have found that the physical chaos present in semiconductor lasers — laser light produced using a semiconductor as the medium — can produce good-quality random number sequences at very high rates

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