European Support for Unconventional Computation
Nature (e.g. living cells), and our physical environment in general, show many unconventional ways of information processing, such as those based on (bio-)chemical, natural, wetware, DNA, molecular, amorphous, reversible, analogue computing, etc. These are generally very sophisticated, ingenious and highly effective for specific purposes, but sufficient knowledge (either from a theoretical or an engineering perspective) to properly exploit, mimic, or adapt these systems, is lacking.
On 26 July 2011 the European Commission issued a call for proposal “FP7: FET Proactive Intiative: Unconventional Computation (UCOMP). Work Programme 2011-2012 – Objective ICT-2011 9.6” with indicative budget €15 million.
The objective of the Call was to develop alternative approaches for situations or problems that are challenging or impossible to solve with conventional methods and models of computation (i.e. von Neumann, Turing). Typical examples include computing in vivo, and performing massively parallel computation. The focus of this objective is beyond existing initiatives (e.g. Quantum ICT, Neuro-IT and Brain-Inspired ICT).
The target outcomes thought was in the foundations for a radically new kind of information processing technology based on unconventional paradigms. The proposed concept should be developed within the framework of a broader, long-term vision on its potential implementation and impact.
The UCOMP Call was aimed at the projects that
- pursue information processing, respecting the link between computation and the physico-chemical properties of its embodiment.
- strengthen the theoretical foundations in the area, keeping a strong focus on their potential application in (future) systems and devices.
- demonstrate key steps towards physical information processing systems, including appropriate construction, organisation, adaptation and operation methodologies
- develop an appropriate interface to conventional IT systems and devices, wherever relevant
Expected impact thought in
- Foundations, approaches and proofs of concept for radically new kinds of computation.
- Possible contributions beyond the area of ICT (e.g. health, environment or security).
- Global international research cooperation in this area, in particular with participants from the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.
The special issue of the International Journal of Unconventional Computing presents overviews of the research proposals funded.