Certain natural processes perform par excellence computation with levels of efficiency unmatched by classical digital models. Levinthal’s Paradox illustrates this well: In nature, proteins fold spontaneously at short timescales (milliseconds) whereas no efficient solution exists for solving protein-folding problems using digital computing. The Nature as Computer (NAC) program proposes that in nature there is synergy between dynamics and physical constraints to accomplish effective computation with minimal resources.
NAC aims to develop innovative research concepts that exploit the interplay between dynamic behaviors and intrinsic material properties to develop powerful new forms of computation. The ability to harness physical processes for purposeful computation has already been demonstrated at lab-scales. NAC seeks to apply these concepts to computation challenges that, for fundamental reasons, are poorly suited to, or functionally unexplored with, classical models.
NAC will lay the foundation for advancing new theories, design concepts and tools for novel computing substrates, and develop metrics for comparing performance and utility. If successful, NAC will demonstrate the feasibility of solving challenging computation problems with orders-of-magnitude improvements over the state of the art.
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