Computing with Chaos; December 1998; Scientific American Magazine; by Gibbs; 2 Page(s)
It is a sure sign that a physical science has reached maturity when it yields a new kind of computer. Charles Babbage¿s brass-geared difference engine crowned 19th-century mechanics, ENIAC¿s vacuum tubes put atomic theory to a tough test, and microchips proved the power of early materials science. More recently, geneticists have coaxed DNA to do math, and physicists have dodged the uncertainty principle to build simple quantum computers.
Now it appears that chaos theory, the scientific debutante of the 1980s, has grown up as well. In September, William L. Ditto of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Sudeshna Sinha of the Institute of Mathematical Science in Madras, India, published the first design for a chaotic computer. Their novel species of machine would exploit the very instabilities that other kinds of computers do their utmost to squelch.