University of Massachusetts Amherst

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As a 2013 article on in The Economist said about neuromorphic computing (meaning microprocessors configured more like human brains than like traditional chips): “Computers will help people to understand brains better. And understanding brains will help people to build better computers.” In that general context, Professors Joshua Yang and Qiangfei Xia of our Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department led a 24-person international team of researchers that has just published the second of two defining papers on neuromorphic computing, which mimics neuro-biological architectures present in the nervous system in order to build better computing systems.

Memristors are basically a fourth class of passive electrical circuit, joining the resistor, the capacitor, and the inductor, which exhibit their unique properties primarily at the nanoscale and represent one of the most promising circuit elements for information storage and processing in future computing technologies. But one major problem with current memristors is their inability to perform effectively at extremely high temperatures, such as those in aircraft engine control systems or in wearable electronics for firefighters.

Think about the startling international news stories surrounding the hacking of our American voting files and the Meltdown and Spectre bugs, the two recently announced security flaws that can expose personal data to hackers and could potentially affect Linux systems, along with computers and devices running Windows, Mac, and other operating-system software. These and many other news events prove the resounding importance of cybersecurity in today’s uncertain world.