Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New computing system takes its cues from human brain

13.06.2017

Some problems are so challenging to solve that even the most advanced computers need weeks, not seconds, to process them.

Now a team of researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Notre Dame has created a new computing system that aims to tackle one of computing's hardest problems in a fraction of the time.


This is a graph with six nodes and three colors.

Credit: Georgia Tech

"We wanted to find a way to solve a problem without using the normal binary representations that have been the backbone of computing for decades," said Arijit Raychowdhury, an associate professor in Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Their new system employs a network of electronic oscillators to solve graph coloring tasks - a type of problem that tends to choke modern computers.

Details of the study were published April 19 in the journal Scientific Reports. The research was conducted with support from the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Semiconductor Research Corporation and the Center for Low Energy Systems Technology.

"Applications today are demanding faster and faster computers to help solve challenges like resource allocation, machine learning and protein structure analysis - problems which at their core are closely related to graph coloring," Raychowdhury said. "But for the most part, we've reached the limitations of modern digital computer processors. Some of these problems that are so computationally difficult to perform, it could take a computer several weeks to solve."

A graph coloring problem starts with a graph - a visual representation of a set of objects connected in some way. To solve the problem, each object must be assigned a color, but two objects directly connected cannot share the same color. Typically, the goal is to color all objects in the graph using the smallest number of different colors.

In designing a system different from traditional transistor-based computing, the researchers took their cues from the human brain, where processing is handled collectively, such as a neural oscillatory network, rather than with a central processor.

"It's the notion that there is tremendous power in collective computing," said Suman Datta, Chang Family professor in Notre Dame's College of Engineering and one of the study's co-authors. "In natural forms of computing, dynamical systems with complex interdependencies evolve rapidly and solve complex sets of equations in a massively parallel fashion."

The electronic oscillators, fabricated from vanadium dioxide, were found to have a natural ability that could be harnessed for graph coloring problems. When a group of oscillators were electrically connected via capacitive links, they automatically synchronized to the same frequency - oscillating at the same rate. Meanwhile, oscillators directly connected to one another would operate at different phases within the same frequency, and oscillators in the same group but not directly connected would sync in both frequency and phase.

"If you suppose that each phase represents a different color, this system was essentially mimicking naturally the solution to a graph coloring problem," said Raychowdhury, who is also the ON Semiconductor Junior Professor at Georgia Tech.

The researchers were able to create a small network of oscillators to solve graph coloring problems with the same number of objects, which are also referred to as nodes or vertices. But even more significant, the new system theoretically proved that a connection existed between graph coloring and the natural dynamics of coupled oscillatory systems.

"This is a critical step because we can prove why this is happening and that it covers all possible instances of graphs," Raychowdhury said. "This opens up a new way of performative computation and constructing novel computational models. This is novel in that it's a physics-based computing approach, but it also presents tantalizing opportunities for building other customized analog systems for solving hard problems efficiently."

That could be valuable to a range of companies looking for computers to help optimize their resources, such as a power utility wanting to maximize efficiency and usage of a vast electrical grid under certain constraints.

"This work provides one of the first constructive ways to build continuous time dynamical system solvers for a combinatorial optimization problem with a working demonstration using compact scalable post-CMOS devices," said Abhinav Parihar, a Georgia Tech student who worked on the project.

The next step would be building a larger network of oscillators that could handle graph coloring problems with more objects at play.

"Our goal is to reach a system with hundreds of oscillators, which would put us in striking distance of developing a computing substrate that could solve graph coloring problems whose optimal solutions are not yet known to mankind," Datta said.

###

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1640081, the Semiconductor Research Corporation under research task Nos. 2698.001 and 2698.002, and the Office of Naval Research under award No. N00014-11-1-0665. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of those agencies.

CITATION: Abhinav Parihar, Nikhil Shukla, Matthew Jerry, Suman Datta and Arijit Raychowdhury, "Vertex coloring of graphs via phase dynamics of coupled oscillatory networks," (Scientific Reports, April 2017). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-00825-1

Josh Brown | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Naval computing system human brain oscillators semiconductor

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions
12.12.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs
11.12.2018 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>