Most people with even the most fundamental knowledge of how computer chips work are familiar with binary logic — the system of ones and zeros that enable modern computing to occur — in which an input always results in a solid result (either a one or a zero). Now, a Boston-based startup is rewiring the basic concept of computation with a probability processor that deals in chance rather than binary logic, creating a chip that could speed all kinds of processes from flash memory in smartphones to better decision-making software for machines.
Lyric Semiconductor’s chip accepts probabilities as inputs instead of ones and zeros, and the output is also a probability — the odds that the two input probabilities match up. Rather than the usual NAND gates characteristic of conventional transistor schemes, the chips employ what are known as Bayesian NAND gates, named for the statistician Thomas Bayes whose field of thought is the basis for the idea.
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