Massively parallel computing on an organic molecular layer

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Modern computers operate at enormous speeds—capable of executing in excess of 1013 instructions per second—but their sequential approach to processing, by which logical operations are performed one after another, has remained unchanged since the 1950s. In contrast, although individual neurons of the human brain fire at around just 103 times per second, the simultaneous collective action of millions of neurons enables them to complete certain tasks more efficiently than even the fastest supercomputer. Here we demonstrate an assembly of molecular switches that simultaneously interact to perform a variety of computational tasks including conventional digital logic, calculating Voronoi diagrams, and simulating natural phenomena such as heat diffusion and cancer growth. As well as representing a conceptual shift from serial-processing with static architectures, our parallel, dynamically reconfigurable approach could provide a means to solve otherwise intractable computational problems.

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Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys1636

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Nature Physics