I’ve been thinking for a while that our obsession with reduction of latency in computing and storage could be ameliorated by exploiting a negative latency design. A negative latency design would be one where a hypothetical message would arrive at a receiver before the sender completed sending it.
There are a few issues with this. First off is how on earth, or elsewhere, is this possible? Second, aren’t there issues with causality violations? Third, won’t the FBI/SEC/DOJ take actions against organizations using negative latency trading systems?
Ok … to start with question 1, we need a quick review of some “elementary” special relativity.
Einstein had postulated the the energy associated with a particle had rest mass and momentum components. His infamous equation is written as
$$E^2 = p^2 c^2 + m_0^2 c^4 $$
For which there are, as every student of basic algebra knows, two solutions. The positive energy solution, everyone is familiar with. Its the negative energy solution that has interesting properties. For this solution to exist, given that $$p^2 >= 0$$
$$c^2 >= 0$$
we would need a so-called imaginary mass, as in factors of
$$i = sqrt(-1)$$
mass. This would be an imaginary number. Not a made up number or a fantasy number.
These solutions are called tachyons, and have interesting properties. The most interesting property is the superluminal transmission rate.
Superluminal transmission is required for closed timeline curves, which are essential for negative latency systems.
So our negative latency system requires use of some fairly esoteric technologies. But it could be possible to send a message message to a receiver and have the receipt occur before the transmitter completes sending the message, as long as several other issues are correctly dealt with.
That is, as long as we conserve energy in the closed system, and don’t use very long messages (for an appropriate value of “very long”, which has to do with the time required to observe the message), we may have the ability to have a receiver get short messages from a sender, before we send them.
This implies a negative latency. Which could take HFT to the next level … imaginary frequency trading. Here, we could launch order confirmation before the order is placed. We could launch cancels ahead of time.
Think about the implications for trading. If its frothy now, we could wind up in a whole new quantum foam vista. Very exciting stuff!
But, to the second point, wouldn’t this be a violation of causality? Causality is a time ordered cause and effect. Placing the effect before the cause would break causality.
Not to mention drive data scientists, whom are already stretching the non-relatedness of correlation and causality to the limits, to have to look at new relativistic statistics, with 4-vectors … and stuff.
Well, as long as we use closed timelike loops, and no one decides to start placing cancels without placing orders, we should be fine. Woe be unto those whom decide to test mother nature’s detailed energy balance.
Finally, wouldn’t a number of government enforcement agencies start investigating this as something akin to insider trading? That is, you launch the effect before you launch the cause. Well, it couldn’t possibly be due to insider information, as that would imply insider information (the cause) led to the effect (trading). As this is reversing this relationship, there is no possible way someone could create a positive latency advantage (insider trading) on a negative latency system. So it should be free from regulation.
ps: check the date