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Many Physical Design Problems are Sparse QCQPs

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posted on 2023-04-04, 16:00 authored by Shai Gertler, Zeyu Kuang, Colin Christie, Owen D. Miller
Physical design refers to mathematical optimization of a desired objective (e.g. strong light--matter interactions, or complete quantum state transfer) subject to the governing dynamical equations, such as Maxwell's or Schrodinger's differential equations. Computing an optimal design is challenging: generically, these problems are highly nonconvex and finding global optima is NP hard. Here we show that for linear-differential-equation dynamics (as in linear electromagnetism, elasticity, quantum mechanics, etc.), the physical-design optimization problem can be transformed to a sparse-matrix, quadratically constrained quadratic program (QCQP). Sparse QCQPs can be tackled with convex optimization techniques (such as semidefinite programming) that have thrived for identifying global bounds and high-performance designs in other areas of science and engineering, but seemed inapplicable to the design problems of wave physics. We apply our formulation to prototypical photonic design problems, showing the possibility to compute fundamental limits for large-area metasurfaces, as well as the identification of designs approaching global optimality. Looking forward, our approach highlights the promise of developing bespoke algorithms tailored to specific physical design problems.

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