The performance / price ratio of digital data processing is steadily increasing, while the performance / price ratio of optical data processing remains nearly constant, although at a favourable level. Given this trend, one might ask: is there still a future for optical data processing? This question cannot be answered in general, since optical data processing is very competent for some jobs, but clumsy or incapable at other jobs. The category of jobs suitable for optics is characterised by features like: high data rate, large storage requirement, moderate accuracy, repetitive program consisting mainly of linear and quadratic operations. Certain statistical computing problems belong into this category. We will present two examples and analyze their data processing efficiencies. The examples are useful in astro-nomy (speckle interferometry) and in biology (motility studies on bacteria).
A. W. Lohmann,
G. P. Weigelt,
"Optical Processing Of Statistical Data", Proc. SPIE 0232, 1980 Intl Optical Computing Conf II, (22 August 1980); doi: 10.1117/12.958889; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.958889