Human brain inspires self-learning microchip

September 19, 2016

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As part of his National Science Foundation CAREER award, Shimeng Yu (right) is providing interdisciplinary educational opportunities in neuro-inspired computing research for students in his lab. Pictured Rui Liu (center), an electrical engineering student, and Ligang Gao (left), an assistant research scientist. Photographer: Pete Zrioka/ASU

Neuroscience, microelectronics and computing — seemingly varied disciplines — have found a common intersection in the form of neuro-inspired computing.

This evolving field in computer engineering aims to emulate the human brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition in our computer systems.

Neural systems provided inspiration for some of the earliest computing systems, but as the technology evolved it began to follow a different approach.

Assistant Professor Shimeng Yu is convinced that a radical shift back toward neuro-inspired architecture is needed in computer engineering.

This shift would break path with conventional methods — namely the von-Neumann architecture that has been used for the last 70 years — in order to offer faster processing and increased battery life.

Specifically, Yu aims to advance neuro-inspired computing by utilizing emerging nano-device technologies to create a self-learning microchip.

His research efforts are supported in part by a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award, which recognizes emerging education and research leaders in engineering and science.

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