The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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From Discovering the Fourth Fundamental Circuit Element and Then to Artificial Intelligence, Nanotechnology Leads the Way

Confirmation that biological systems use memristive systems to learn could be step towards AI

1 min read

My first introduction to the discovery of the fabled memristor was right here on the pages of Spectrum and I have been hooked on this story ever since.

Whenever a new bit of information comes out about the memristor, I can’t resist the urge to read that story, or watch that video:

So when I saw Frogheart, which is a new addition to my blog roll, had written something on the latest news around the fourth fundamental circuit element, I was compelled to read it. And I’m glad I did.

The article filled me in on research that took place in 2008 in Japan, which is about the same time that R. Stanley Williams and his colleagues at HP reported that they had manufactured devices that were memristors.

The Japanese researchers were working with rather humble slime mould after having been inspired by a research group at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego). They were able to confirm that theorist Leon Chua’s intuition that biological organisms used memristive systems to learn. Frogheart was good enough to provide the link to the article from a publication called HPlus.

This year researchers at the University of Michigan led by Dr. Wei Lu have demonstrated how synapses behave like memristors, which was published in Nano Letters

As Frogheart says, “In the short term, scientists talk about energy savings (no need to reboot your computer when you turn it back on). In the longer term, they talk about hardware being able to learn.”

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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