Optical information systems
Casasent, David Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Optical image processing
- Optical signal processing
- Optical computing and interconnections
- Optical neural networks
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Systems that use light to process information. Optical information systems or processors consist of one or several light sources; one- or two-dimensional planes of data such as film transparencies, various lenses, and other optical components; and detectors. These elements can be arranged in various configurations to achieve different data-processing functions. As light passes through various data planes, the light distribution is spatially modulated proportional to the information present in each plane. This modulation occurs in parallel in one or two dimensions, and the processing is performed at the speed of light. Optical processors offer various advantages compared to other technologies: data travels at the speed of light; all data in one-dimensional and two-dimensional arrays are operated on in parallel; multiple planes of data can be processed in parallel by various multiplexing schemes; it is possible to have large numbers of interconnections with no interaction (which is not possible with electrical connections); and power dissipation is less and size and weight can be less for optical processors than for their electronic counterparts. See also: Concurrent processing; Multiplexing and multiple access
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