CEFOP researchers develop safe method for random numbers

Researchers in charge of the study: Doctors Adán Cabello, Gustavo Moreira Lima and Guilherme Barreto Xavier.

The basic of the project was proposed by Dr. Adán Cabello from Universidad de Sevilla, and research has been developed by Drs. Gustavo Moreira Lima and Guilherme Barreto Xavier, members of our Center.

To generate a sequence of random numbers is a task that sounds simple, but in practice it is not. It is a widespread need, especially in the field of scientific research, gaming and security.

This is the underlying premise for “Experimental quantum randomness generation invulnerable to the detection loophole” research currently being undertaken by Dr. Adán Cabello, Universidad de Sevilla, along with researchers from the Center for Optics and Photonics, Universidad de  Concepción, Doctors Guilherme Barreto Xavier and Gustavo Moreira Lima, from a preliminary theory proposed by Dr. Martin Pawlowski at the Universidad de Gdansk (Poland), which ensures that it is possible to obtain a series of truly random numbers, which would be a major advance, with a great potential in various fields.

In orden to develop the experiment and article with their conclusions, in collaboration with researchers from our Center, Dr. Cabello, values the advantages of developing research in CEFOP. “I’ve noticed that all ingredients are available: it is a very important idea that must be implemented experimentally, it must be done quickly and well and I have to do it with people I can trust, to finish things on time. Which is not easy, is not that there are many groups like this”, said the researcher, who in the past has already developed works with Dr. Gustavo Moreira.

“We’ve done about eight collaborations. I come from a theoretical area, but interests are the same. It is not always the case, but typically there is a theoretical proposal that I could have previously established, but that is not developed or published, then we discuss it and see if it can be implemented in an experiment. We see first if it’s interesting, if feasible, and we start working. In general, this is the process, but every job has its own process”, the scientist said about this research genesis.

Cabello also stressed the importance that the experiment results have in practice. “In this case, we’re doing something we really believe it is very important. A teacher in Poland has a proposal; a paper with an idea that is potentially very important and we can implement it but it is not currently profiled. So I contacted him to develop an explicit protocol and discussed it. Then I bring it here (to CEFOP) to discuss it again. And what we have now in hand, when the experiment is over more than a month ago? We have an article version, but we’re refining it”, said Cabello, who is also president of the Quantum Information of the Royal Spanish Society of Physics Focus Group.

“The idea is to try to generate random numbers, which seems like a simple thing, but it is very complicated. Having a truly random number is not easy, a computer cannot, and it can be proven. But this is a very important thing in many areas. For example online transactions, when you want to send something safe, you have to encode it and what you need is a random number to do so. In scientific simulations, it is important that the samples are truly random. Then, there are two types of interest in the random numbers: first that they are really random, and second, that they are private plus random”, stressed the Spanish researcher.

“Our proposal is a compact and not too expensive one, then the importance of this is that it opens the way to a second generation of random number generators based on quantum mechanics, which are now in high demand”, Cabello said.

Dr. Guilherme Barreto Xavier, for other hand, highlighted CEFOP’s specialization degree in this field, and the interest of foreign scientists to participate in research. “Our Center has produced in recent years several high-level experiments in quantum information area, due to the tight integration between disciplines. This allows CEFOP to develop world class experiment in which other theoretical and experimental foreign researchers want to collaborate, having different views and ideas, so, for us, these collaborations are very important to expand our research possibilities”, Xavier said.

About the experiment proposed by Dr. Cabello, Xavier explained its possibilities. “The practical application is the highly efficient random number generation, with guaranteed randomness of quantum mechanics. This experiment has applications in several areas that require certificates random numbers, as in cryptography, lotteries, scientific simulations, among others” the researcher said, and also highlighted the academic benefits of research. “The new acquired knowledge with discussions are past to students through direct contact with foreign researchers, and as examples in class”, he said.

Regarding the upcoming challenges the experiment offers, Dr. Xavier said that the most urgent “is to find a way to make it more practical, compact and fast, for, then, think of a possible commercialization and contact with companies” he said.

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