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Thoughts on alternate methods of computation? Have you heard anything big about them recently? Any ideas about feasibility or what might be the next tech to make it big?
It's been a while since I kept up with any news related to the field, but I saw an article recently that said Google is looking to build quantum computers for business and standard commercial operation by 2029. It reminded me that new computation methods are slowly developing and I don't think people talk about them enough. They all focus on quantum computing which is cool and all, but it's all anyone talks about when talking about non-traditional computing.
Back in 2014-2015 I remember being excited about all the new developments with memristors and how they I think it was HP were able to start calculations with a few bits already. I haven't heard anything new since then. Optical still seems to have the same size issues as before from a quick search. Spintronics are neat and have been useful in hard drives for years already, but I really want to see where the use of skyrmion manipulation goes. The idea of read data from, and performing computation using psuedo-particles based on vortices in magnetic fields is just too cool.
I am extremely interested in "reversible computing," the principle is that normal binary operator computing (Boolean logic) expend energy as heat by "losing" information during the operation. For example if you ran [0,1] through an AND gate to get , then you've lost information about the input, and that information loss is physical, it's expended as heat somehow. Meanwhile a reversible operation preserves information about the input by encoding it in the output, I don't really understand how it works but there's something called Fredkin and Toffoli gates that do this. Theoretically, computers built with these sorts of gates are supposed to be extremely energy efficient, with most if not all of the cost to run them being in restoring the current loss through electrical resistance (which can be minimized or eliminated by superconductivity).
Also, I remember seeing something back in 2018 about a really weird unorthodox computer that was made of some kind of a refractive foam, and it was shaped and structured in a way so that the whole physical object itself would do computations by redirecting light to interfere with itself, and that interference would be computations somehow, with no moving parts, all the computations was just a result of light traveling through the foam. However I haven't been able to find that news or anything like it since then, so it's possible I could have just dreamed it up and got confused.
Oh yeah, can you please explain skyrmions to a brainlet? Are they just like knots or solitons in a magnetic field? That sounds really useful for RAM.
I'm kind of a brainlet too and am learning most of this as I write it, but they're basically a type of soliton a topological soliton in a magnetic field from what I can tell. Because of the stability of its structure the little votex you can sort of treat it like a particle even though nothing is really there. They seem to be being considered more for cold storage due to the densities you could theoretically reach with them. I haven't seen any considerations for quick-access memory applications like RAM. Maybe they're still too new for that for people to get too specific?
Fugg, I didn't know about reversible computing before. Now that's a rabbit hole to fall in to. From what I can tell, it seems true reversible conventional computers aren't really possible because of issues with entropy and trying to extract info from the system without losing energy or something. I think those Fredkin and Toffoli gates are also only reversible when they're based on quantum phenomenon. Something about Quantum mechanics being a unitary and unitary transformations are invertible. Honestly it goes over my head as well. Fuck if I don't want to know more though. I'm also not sure what it means for cryptographic security if all operations taken to encrypt the information are reversible. Sounds like a bad time to me, but it's probably something that's already been considered too.
I can't find anything about a refractive foam computer from a quick search. But on a semi-related note, I did see a video on youtube recently about a mechanical computer someone built using water. I think they managed to get it to working with 4 bits to compute with.
>From what I can tell, it seems true reversible conventional computers aren't really possible because of issues with entropy and trying to extract info from the system without losing energy or something.
I guess the computation itself would be fully reversible at no cost (theoretically) but putting the computation into RAM or ROM would cost something, both for energy and reversibility.
> I think those Fredkin and Toffoli gates are also only reversible when they're based on quantum phenomenon. Something about Quantum mechanics being a unitary and unitary transformations are invertible.
Like superpositions? I think that might be a little different but I'm not sure.
>I'm also not sure what it means for cryptographic security if all operations taken to encrypt the information are reversible.
You can process the cryptography locally with reversible computers and transmit/receive with irreversible computers. Or you could do the whole thing with irreversible computers. If future computers are reversible as a norm, maybe they will have special irreversible chips to connect to networks, just like there were specialized Wi-Fi cards not so long ago.
>But on a semi-related note, I did see a video on youtube recently about a mechanical computer someone built using water. I think they managed to get it to working with 4 bits to compute with.
I saw that too! That's so cool. There is a channel called abacoo that shows how all classical computers (even reversible ones) can be simulated with marble runs, I emailed the author a long time ago about it with an address I no longer have, and he sent me a video of a physical model of a reversible marble computer. He said not to show anyone so I didn't save it, and whatever filehost it was on is probably expired.