The University of Geneva and the company id Quantique team to
launch the first web site offering the possibility to download
random numbers from quantum origin.
Geneva, March 18, 2004 – The number of
applications requiring random numbers increases continuously.
They are used for example in cryptographic applications to guarantee
the secrecy of electronic communications, in scientific calculations
or in chance games and lotteries. In spite of this, their generation
remains a difficult task. The Group of Applied Physics and the
Computer Science Department of the University of Geneva team with
the company id Quantique to launch the first website allowing
to download random numbers from quantum origin and to make true
random numbers widely available.
The website – conveniently located under
the web address www.randomnumbers.info - offers the possibility
to request a sequence of random numbers. The length and the bounds
of the sequence can be specified by the user. A quantum random
number generator connected to the server is used to produce the
numbers on demand. This website will evolve and expand in the
future to become the reference resource on randomness and random
numbers on the internet.
According to Nicolas Gisin, professor at the
Group of Applied Physics, “Quantum physics is the only physical
theory predicting that the outcome of certain phenomena is random.
It is thus a natural choice to use it to generate true random
numbers.” The Group of Applied Physics developed in 1998
the first practical quantum random number generator. This device
exploited an elementary quantum optical process – namely
the reflection or the transmission of a light particle on a semi-transparent
mirror – to produce binary random numbers.
This quantum random number generator was commercialized
by the company id Quantique, a spin-off of the University of Geneva.
“The Quantum Random Number Generator met a great commercial
success. This is why we have decided to develop a second generation,
which will introduce at the Cebit 2004 trade show in Hannover”
said Gregoire Ribordy, CEO of id Quantique.
The Computer Science department has developed
a server/client application for scientist from around the world
to be able to download random numbers directly in the C, C+, Fortran
or Java codes used for their simulations. “As of today, a limited access
is possible through a web page while a more intense use for scientific
purposes will be possible in a couple of weeks.” said Stefan Marconi,
project leader at the Computer Science department.
The automatic generation of random numbers in
scientific applications has always been a serious subject of discussion
since a machine cannot produce such numbers without the use of
a rule. The pseudorandom numbers are thus completely deterministic
and can sometimes introduce unwanted bias in the phenomena under
study. “I remember distinguished colleagues of mine having
to withdraw a publication from a journal because they realized
the physical effect they had discovered was in fact due to the
pseudorandom generator” said Bastien Chopard, professor
at the Group of Scientific and Parallel Computing.
From a practical point of view, the website and
the server will be hosted by the IT Division of the University
of Geneva and will be jointly maintained by the partners. “I
am glad to host and to provide this new service to the community.
It is a perfect example of how the IT Division can provide expertise
for production and offer a real scale test bed for projects developed
by research teams” said Alain Jacot-Descombes, Head of the
About The Computer Science department at University of Geneva
The Computer Science department is divided into
six groups involved in research as diversified as numerical imagery,
high performance computing and parallelism, theoretical computing,
software engineering, bio-informatics and artificial intelligence.
At present time, the Computer Science department staff consists
of 65 people (lecturers, researchers, technical personnel) and
the various teaching it proposes reaches about 350 students.
About The Applied Physics group at University of Geneva
The Group of Applied Physics is composed of three
sections working in the fields of optics, supra-conductivity and biomedical
physics. It is composed of about 50 people (researchers, technicall staff
and administrative staff)
About id Quantique
id Quantique is a spin-off of the University
of Geneva, Switzerland. It was created in October 2001 by four
researchers of the Group of Applied Physics, Grégoire Ribordy,
Olivier Guinnard, Nicolas Gisin and Hugo Zbinden.
id Quantique has the commitment to become a leader in novel secure
communication systems based on quantum photonics. It has developed
the first commercial quantum cryptography system and quantum random
number generator. The products of id Quantique target the market
of high security cryptographic applications and have the potential
to dramatically enhance the security of digital communications,
by solving the key generation and exchange problems. In December
2003, id Quantique raised 1 million Euros from the Luxemburg based
i2i venture capital fund. The company has been supported since
its creation by CCSO, a Swiss coaching network, and the CTI-Startup
In November 2001, id Quantique was one of the recipients of the
European Innovation Awards from the Wall Street Journal Europe.
It was also selected to represent Switzerland at the 2002 and
2004 Cebit in Hannover, Germany.
For more information, please contact :
University of Geneva
Prof. Bastien Chopard, Scientific and Parallel Computing
Ph : +41 22 379 76 23
IDQ (formerly id Quantique)
Grégoire Ribordy, CEO, id Quantique
Ph: +41 22 301 83 72, Cell: +41 79 784 70 79