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AI Fuses With Quantum Computing in Promising New Memristor

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Scientists in Austria and Italy have developed a quantum version of the memristor that they suggest could lead to quantum neuromorphic computers.

Credit: Equinox Graphics/University of Vienna

Recent years have seen computing advance in two major ways—breakthroughs in machine learning to develop algorithms that improve automatically through experience, and research into quantum computers that can theoretically prove more powerful than any supercomputer. Now scientists have created the first prototype of a device known as a quantum memristor, which might help bring together the best of both of those worlds—combining artificial intelligence with quantum computing for unprecedented capabilities.

A memristor, or memory resistor, is a kind of building block for electronic circuits that scientists predicted roughly 50 years ago but created for the first time only a little more than a decade ago. These components are essentially electric switches that can remember whether they were toggled on or off after their power is turned off. As such, they resemble synapses—the links between neurons in the human brain—whose electrical conductivity strengthens or weakens depending on how much electrical charge has passed through them in the past.

In theory, memristors can act like artificial neurons capable of both computing and storing data. As such, researchers have suggested that neuromorphic or brainlike computers built using memristors would perform well at running neural networks, which are machine-learning systems that use synthetic versions of synapses and neurons to mimic the process of learning in the human brain.

From IEEE Spectrum
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