A team of scientists from NUST MISIS, the Russin Quantum Center, the Clarendon Laboratory, Department of Physics and the Department of Computer Science, (both University of Oxford), the Dahlem Center for Complex Quantum Systems, Freie Universität Berlin, and the Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London have completed a study in optics and quantum information that details their work in developing a fast and affordable quantum random number generator. The paper, Certified Quantum Random Numbers from Untrusted Light, was published in Physical Review X and sets out the team’s work of moving forward with a commercial random number generator (RNG) for cryptography, as well as complex systems modelling.
The unique attribute to the team’s random number generator is it produces randomness at a rate of 8.05 GB per second, an impressive rate by anyone’s standards.
“It is surprisingly hard to generate true random numbers at speeds fast enough for commercial use, which is why most applications have relied on deterministic — or pseudo-random numbers.”
— Vikram Sharma, QuintessenceLabs Founder and CEO
“Quantum events allow the generation of numbers whose randomness is asserted based upon the underlying physical processes. Quantum-based random number generators can have very broad applications,” said Alex Fedorov, head of the Russian Quantum Center research group and the Quantum Communications Theory Lab Head at NUST MISIS, on the group’s findings.
The impressive achievement was made possible because the team dispatched an “untrusted” light source into one input of a beam splitter while the other input was the vacuum before being measured utilizing two different optical detectors, the result of which produces a truly amazing random number since every individual photon that collides with the beam splitter creates a scenario where the photons in question have a fifty-fifty chance of being transmitted or reflected — detecting the number of photons recorded by either detector is nigh on impossible to fathom or predict, a legacy of Thomas Young’s seminal experiment.
In a word, diffraction on acid.
The paper begins with the introduction:
“a remarkable aspect of quantum theory is that certain measurement outcomes are entirely unpredictable to all possible observers. Such quantum events can be harnessed to generate numbers whose randomness is asserted based upon the underlying physical processes. We formally introduce, design, and experimentally demonstrate an ultrafast optical quantum random number generator that uses a totally untrusted photonic source. While considering completely general quantum attacks, we certify and generate in real-time random numbers at a rate of 8.05 Gb=s with a composable security parameter of 10−10. Composable security is the most stringent and useful security paradigm because any given protocol remains secure even if arbitrarily combined with other instances of the same, or other, protocols, thereby allowing the generated randomness to be utilized for arbitrary applications in cryptography and beyond. This work achieves the fastest generation of composably secure quantum random numbers ever reported.”
As already mentioned: the 8.05 GB a second of real-time random numbers is great, but what’s freaky is the composable security parameter of 10−10. Whether the team — or individuals from it — pursue this any further to keep us safe, shielded and guarded against the hooded claw of internet infractions is another matter altogether.
Whatever the outcome, Fedorov and his international team of scientists are sure to make a mark in the cryptography market with their research in QRNG.