Santa Fe Institute Collaboration Platform

Thermodynamics of Computation

Michael Frank

From Thermodynamics of Computation
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Biography: [[Biography::My first exposure to the thermodynamics of computation was in 1985 when I read a Scientific American article [1] about the subject during high school. Then in 1988, I took the world's first class on Nanotechnology, taught by the visionary K. Eric Drexler at Stanford University, in which Drexler discussed an architecture [2-4] for reversible nanomechanical computation which he was designing at MIT. I graduated from Stanford in 1991 with distinction with a B.Sci. in Symbolic Systems (focusing on CS and AI), and went on to do my graduate work in the EECS department at MIT. After completing a Masters thesis on decision-theoretic methods in AI [5], I decided that we really needed faster computers and so, with support from an NSF Graduate Fellowship, I began studying nanoscale computation in earnest. In 1995 I designed the world's first method for universal computation using DNA chemistry [6], this method was required to be reversible for fundamental thermochemical reasons. I then joined the DARPA-funded MIT Reversible Computing Project, led by the legendary hacker [7], Tom Knight, and cellular automata machine expert [8] Norm Margolus, who was an alumnus of the Information Mechanics group [9] led by Ed Fredkin, former director of the MIT Lab for Computer Science and inventor of the Billiard-Ball Model of computation [10], which was the first ballistic model of reversible computation. Knight and his student Saed Younis had invented the first complete, fully adiabatic and reversible CMOS-based logic technology [11], and in the subsequent project, I and other students built on their work to create the first adiabatic and fully-reversible universal processor chips [12,13]. During this period I also showed that the aggregate performance of parallel 3D adiabatic reversible machines scales better physically (by polynomial factors), within power dissipation constraints, than any possible irreversible computing architecture [14]. My 1999 MIT doctoral dissertation [15] derived several other related scaling results, and explored a number other aspects of reversible computing, from physics through application algorithms. After graduating, I continued my research in faculty positions at the University of Florida [16] and Florida State University [17], and currently as a senior-level engineering scientist at Sandia National Laboratories [18]. While at UF and FSU, I occasionally taught a research survey course on The Physical Limits of Computation [19]. In 2005 I organized the first workshop on reversible computing [20] and I currently serve on the program committee for the ongoing Reversible Computation conference series [21]. My recent research has dealt with the foundations of Landauer's principle [22] and of reversible computing theory [23], and I am also working on a couple of funded R&D projects at Sandia which are aiming to demonstrate new engineering implementations of reversible computing. Numerous of my other papers and talks in this field are available through my research webpages [16-18] (but please let me know if you come across any broken links).]]

Field(s) of Research: Computer Science Engineering to Address Energy Costs, Computer Science Theory, Logically Reversible Computing

Related links

  • [1 C.H. Bennett and R. Landauer, "The Fundamental Physical Limits of Computation," Scientific American, July 1985.]
  • [2 K. Eric Drexler, Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, Anchor Books, 1987.]
  • [3 K. Eric Drexler, Molecular Machinery and Manufacturing with Applications to Computation, Ph.D. thesis, MIT, 1991.]
  • [4 K. Eric Drexler, Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation, Wiley, 1992.]
  • [5 M.P. Frank, Advances in Decision-Theoretic AI: Limited Rationality and Abstract Search]
  • [6 M.P. Frank, "Cyclic Mixture Mutagenesis for DNA-Based Computing," unpublished Ph.D. proposal, MIT EECS Dept., Sep. 1995.]
  • [7 Steven Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, Doubleday, 1984.]
  • [8 Tommaso Toffoli and Norman Margolus, Cellular Automata Machines: A New Environment for Modeling, MIT Press, 1987.]
  • [9 Information Mechanics group home page.]
  • [10 Edward Fredkin and Tommaso Toffoli, "Conservative Logic," IJTP 21(3/4), 1982.]
  • [11 Saed G. Younis and Thomas F. Knight, Jr., "Practical implementation of charge recovering asymptotically zero power CMOS," Proc.1993 Symp. on Research on Integrated Systems, MIT Press, pp. 234-250.]
  • [12 M.J. Ammer, M. Frank, T. Knight, N. Love, N. Margolus, and C. Vieri, "A Scalable Reversible Computer in Silicon," Unconventional Models of Computation, Calude, Casti, Dineen (eds.), Springer, 1998.]
  • [13 C. Vieri, M.J. Ammer, M. Frank, N. Margolus, T. Knight, "A Fully Reversible Asymptotically Zero Energy Microprocessor," in Power Driven Microarchitecture Workshop, pp. 138-142, May 1998.]
  • [14 M.P. Frank and T.F. Knight, Jr., "Ultimate Theoretical Models of Nanocomputers," Nanotechnology 9(3), 1998.]
  • [15 M.P. Frank, Reversibility for Efficient Computing, Ph.D. thesis, MIT EECS Dept., June 1999.]
  • [16 Archived copy of my old home page at UF]
  • [17 My old home page at FSU (still up)]
  • [18 My new home page at Sandia]
  • [19 Physical Limits of Computing course directory]
  • [20 RC'05 home page]
  • [21 Reversible Computation conference series]
  • [22 M.P. Frank, "Physical Foundations of Landauer's Principle," invited paper, 10th Conf. on Reversible Computation, Leicester, UK, Sep. 2018.]
  • [23 M.P. Frank, "Foundations of Generalized Reversible Computing," 9th Conf. on Reversible Computation, Kolkata, India, July 2017.]