The thought of a computer that never crashes is incredibly appealing to anyone who has ever used a computer. Researchers from the University College London have created a computer system that they call a "systemic" computer that is able to self-repair and instantly recover from crashes. The researchers believe that their systemic computer could have many uses including the ability to help military drones reprogram themselves to cope with damage sustained in combat.
The researchers also believe that their systemic computer could help create more realistic models of the human brain. Computers today work through a list of instructions one at a time in sequential order. Instructions are extracted from the memory, executed, and the result is again placed into memory. The computer creation that researchers Peter Bentley and Christos Sakellariou have created that combines the data and the instructions on what to do with the data into systems.
The researchers give the example of the computer being able to monitor the temperature outside along with instructions on what to do if the temperature falls outside of a specific range. Each of the systems contains context sensitive data allowing the data to only interact with other similar systems. Unlike traditional computers that use a program counter, the systems in the systemic computer are executed at times chosen by a pseudorandom number generator designed to mimic the randomness in nature.
This means that the system is able to carry out instructions simultaneously with no one system taking precedence over the others. In the system, the researchers say that the results of a computation emerges from the interaction between systems that interact in parallel and randomly. The system also contains multiple copies of its instructions distributed across the many systems so if one system is corrupted the computer is able to access another clean copy to repair its code eliminating operating system crashes because a single bit of memory can't be accessed.
[via New Scientist]