Simulating Neural Computation

The work reported by IBM and other organizations begins with building blocks that act more like biological neurons. The goal is to connect these building blocks together in a manner somewhat like the synaptic connections that animal brains utilize. This requires a new programming model that is very different from today’s von Neumann architectures and computers. While von Neumann computers excel at rapid calculations, far surpassing human brain capabilities, even the fastest, largest modern computers are inferior to the human brain in areas such as pattern recognition, unstructured learning, etc.

“Architectures and programs are closely intertwined and a new architecture necessitates a new programming paradigm,” said Dr. Dharmendra S. Modha, Principal Investigator and Senior Manager, IBM Research. “We are working to create a FORTRAN for synaptic computing chips. While complementing today’s computers, this will bring forth a fundamentally new technological capability in terms of programming and applying emerging learning systems.”

These researchers developed several breakthroughs to advance and enable this new software ecosystem. Clink on the link below to watch a video and discover how these breakthroughs support all aspects of the programming cycle from design through development, debugging, and deployment.

But IBM is not alone in this effort. An SAP blog,, reports on work at Qualcomm and Intel on similar efforts in those companies to emulate biological computing.