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.
Professor Lixin Gao of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department has been selected to this year’s list of the Networking Networking Women (N2 Women) “Stars in Computer Networking and Communications,” previously known as “10 women in networking /communications that you should KNOW.” As the N2 Women co-chairs wrote to Gao, “Many people from around the world submitted one or more outstanding nominations for this list, and it was difficult to choose only 10 amazing women. You are one of these incredible women!”
One of the most overlooked but critical features of the M5 makerspace in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is the 25 or so white boards lining the walls in numerous places around the facility or waiting to be installed. Such white boards didn’t appear as if by magic. Deploying them, in fact, and getting them installed on the walls, is one of the many organizational duties of new M5 Engineer-in-Residence Shira Epstein, who typically works behind the scenes to organize, stabilize, and categorize the day-to-day operations in the makerspace.
Akshaya Shanmugam — a UMass Amherst alumna of our Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department and CEO and co-founder of the Amherst-based spinoff company Lumme Inc. — has been recognized in Forbes Magazine’s list of “30 under 30” entrepreneurs for Healthcare. At Lumme, Shanmugam has developed helpful and effective software for smokers who want to quit. See press coverage: Mirror Now, Zee News, Domain-b.com. See UMass News Office article. Shanmugam earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical and computer engineering at UMass Amherst in 2012 and 2015, respectively, both under the direction of Dr. Christopher Salthouse of the ECE department.
Professors Qiangfei Xia and Joshua Yang of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at UMass Amherst have just published an article about their research on a “computing engine using large memristor crossbars” in the opening issue of Nature Electronics, a research journal launched recently by the Nature Publishing Group. Xia, Yang, and their research colleagues say that “Memristor crossbars offer reconfigurable non-volatile resistance states and could remove the speed and energy efficiency bottleneck in vector-matrix multiplication, a core computing task in signal and image processing.”
Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Neal Anderson’s doctoral student Natesh Ganesh has won the Best Student Paper award at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 2017 International Conference on Rebooting Computing (ICRC). The title of his paper and presentation was "A Thermodynamic Treatment of Intelligent Systems." The conference was held on November 8 and 9 in Washington, DC. The goal of the IEEE ICRC was to discover and foster novel methodologies to reinvent computing technology, including new materials and physics, devices and circuits, system and network architectures, and algorithms and software.
As Aksamija says about the research in the Scientific Reports paper, “We study atomic monolayer materials, such as graphene, because of their potential applications in future ultra-nanoscale devices. Graphene is a material of superlatives, including very low electrical resistivity, but it’s missing a key property that other semiconductors have: an energy bandgap. The lack of a bandgap means graphene devices cannot be completely turned off.”