Headline Nov 07, 2014/



WITH this technique, the mechanics of computing become more akin to those of human thought, says Joseph Bates of: 

Singular computing, a firm based in Newton, Massachusetts.

In the  ''messy process''  of brain activity, synapses transmit signals imperfectly between nerve cells, he notes.

Rather than squandering resources in a futile attempt to eliminate minor errors, the brain filters them out as processing moves up to higher mental functions.

Together with Charles River Associates, a consultancy, Singular is working on a $700,000 project for the US Navy to design an:

''Approximate computing''  video processing chip to increase the ability of battery-powered drones to track potential targets. 

The technology behind microchips is now ready for widespread use, says Vivek De, Intel's head of circuit research in Hillsboro, Oregon.

But will companies that exploit sloppiness to boost performance or battery life want to admit it?

Buyers want to think twice before buying a device that operates with errors as a matter of course, concedes Hang Chang Chieh, a professor at the National University of Singapore.

Researchers have coined  a variety of euphemisms to describe the technology, such as  ''inexact hardware'' ,  a  ''probabilistic computing'' ,   ''relaxed correctness'' and  ''relaxed reliability''.

In five years your  smartphone  or   computer  is unlikely to sport a sticker boasting that it contains chips that sometimes get their sums wrong.

Even so, such chips may be lurking inside,  increasing performance and extending battery life.

So, when, on January 16th 2003,  82 seconds after the space shuttle Columbia lifted off, a piece of foam insulation weighing less than a kilogram broke off its fuel tank and-

Hit the left wing.

Bosses at America's space agency,  NASA, were largely reassured by a subsequent presentation delivered by the  ''debris assessment''  team.

They did not request that a military spy satellite photograph the wing, in orbit, before re-entry.

But its thermal protection was, in fact, badly damaged.

As it re-entered the atmosphere  13  days later, the shuttle, and its crew of seven burned up.

In a report eighth months later, the Columbia Investigation Board cast considerable doubt on the debris assessment team's presentation to higher ups during the shuttle's flight-

Prepared using PowerPoint software.

Information had been poorly condensed into  28 slides.

On one cluttered slide the words  ''significant''  and  ''significantly''  were used five times with a range of meanings from  ''detectable in a perhaps irrelevant calibration case study'' to-

''An amount of damage so that everyone dies,'' noted Edward Tufte, a consultant to the investigators.

It was very easy to see how managers could have viewed the slides without grasping the the level of danger, the board concluded.

*I leave all this probabilistic computing work and all conclusions, to the world's imagination?!*

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' The Zoom '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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