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[Colloquium] The End Of Computers As We Know Them?

October 26, 2007

Watch Colloquium: 

  • Date: Friday, October 26th, 2007 
  • Time: 1 pm — 2:30 pm 
  • Place: ME 218

Christof Teuscher 
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Abstract: Since the beginning of modern computer science some sixty years ago, we are building computers in more or less the same way. Silicon electronics serves as a physical substrate, the von Neumann architecture provides a computer design model, while the abstract Turing machine concept supports the theoretical foundations. Alternative computing paradigms and machines always played a rather marginal role in the past, essentially because there was little or no need to go beyond the horizon of silicon electronics. That is changing: in recent years, previously unseen computing substrates have seen the light, for example because of advances in synthetic biology, nanotechnology, material science, and neurobiology. A grand challenge in computer science consists in developing architectures, design methodologies, formal frameworks, and tools that allow to reliably compute and efficiently solve problems with such alternative devices. In this talk, I will first review some exemplary future and emerging computing devices and highlight the particular challenges that arise for performing computations with them. I will then delineate potential solutions on how these challenges might be addressed. Self-assembled nano-scale electronics will serve as a simple showcase. Without disruptive new technologies, it is expected that the ever-increasing computing performance and storage capacity achieved with existing technologies will eventually reach a plateau. Last, I will illustrate future challenges that need to be addressed in order to keep computer science going at the same pace.

Bio: Christof Teuscher currently holds a Technical Staff Member position at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). He obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degree in computer science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) in 2000 and 2004 respectively. In 2004 he became a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and in 2005 a distinguished Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His main research interests include biologically-inspired computing, emerging computing architectures and paradigms, complex & adaptive systems, and cognitive science. Teuscher has received several prestigious awards and fellowships. For more information visit: