Soulskill from the whi-mnds-a-fwe-erorsr dept.
Skudd writes "Modern computing has always been reliant on accuracy and correct answers. Now, a professor at Rice University in Houston posits that some future applications could be revolutionized by 'probabilistic computing.' Quoting: 'This afternoon, Krishna Palem, speaking at a computer science meeting in San Francisco, will announce results of the first real-world test of his probabilistic computer chip: The chip, which thrives on random errors, ran seven times faster than today's best technology while using just 1/30th the electricity. ... The high density of transistors on existing chips also leads to a lot of background "noise." To compensate, engineers increase the voltage applied to computer circuits to overpower the noise and ensure precise calculations. Palem began wondering how much a slight reduction in the quality of calculations might improve speed and save energy. He soon realized that some information was more valuable than other information. For example, in calculating a bank balance of $13,000.81, getting the "13" correct is much more important than the "81." Producing an answer of $13,000.57 is much closer to being correct than $57,000.81. While Palem's technology may not have a future in calculating missions to Mars, it probably has one in such applications as streaming music and video on mobile devices, he said.'
We don't know who it was that discovered water, but we're pretty sure
that it wasn't a fish.
-- Marshall McLuhan