Natural Computing

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 321–331

Solving the subset-sum problem with a light-based device


DOI: 10.1007/s11047-007-9059-3

Cite this article as:
Oltean, M. & Muntean, O. Nat Comput (2009) 8: 321. doi:10.1007/s11047-007-9059-3


We propose an optical computational device which uses light rays for solving the subset-sum problem. The device has a graph-like representation and the light is traversing it by following the routes given by the connections between nodes. The nodes are connected by arcs in a special way which lets us to generate all possible subsets of the given set. To each arc we assign either a number from the given set or a predefined constant. When the light is passing through an arc it is delayed by the amount of time indicated by the number placed in that arc. At the destination node we will check if there is a ray whose total delay is equal to the target value of the subset sum problem (plus some constants). The proposed optical solution solves a NP-complete problem in time proportional with the target sum, but requires an exponential amount of energy.


Unconventional computing Optical solutions NP-complete Subset sum 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer ScienceBabeş-Bolyai UniversityCluj-NapocaRomania

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