- Researchers from Japan’s Tohoku University have developed a mathematical model to describe what happens within small magnets as they fluctuate between states when an electric current and magnetic field are applied.
- Their findings, published in the Nature Communications journal, could be used to develop more advanced computers that can calculate uncertainty while interpreting complex data.
- There may be various ways to build such a computer, but some scientists are investigating the utilization of segments called magnetic tunnel junctions.
- This provides us with the mathematical framework needed to incorporate magnetic tunnel junctions into the p-bit and create complex probabilistic computers.
Scientists from Japan’s Tohoku University have created a mathematical model to explain what occurs within tiny magnets as they oscillate between states when an electric current and magnetic field are applied. Their research, published in Nature Communications, may serve as the basis for creating more sophisticated computers that can estimate uncertainty while deciphering complicated data.
Researchers are focusing more on probabilistic computing
Even while traditional computers have helped us get this far, there are still issues that they cannot effectively solve. To overcome this, scientists have started developing computers that can use the principles of quantum physics to spot patterns in challenging situations. However, these so-called quantum computers are still in the early phases of research and require extremely low temperatures to operate because they are highly sensitive to their environment.
Last month, we discussed how probabilistic computers (p-computers) could be vital for developing efficient AI and ML systems. Researchers are searching for new computing paradigms because the classical computers that are now in use cannot complete that task in an energy-efficient manner. While still in the research stages and very environment-sensitive, qubit-based quantum computers may help address these challenges.
P-bits, or probabilistic bits, operate P-computers by interacting with other p-bits in the same system. P-bits work at normal temperature and oscillate between positions, unlike qubits, which can be in multiple states simultaneously and are similar to the bits in traditional computers, which are either in a 0 or a 1 state.
Now, researchers are focusing more on probabilistic computing. A computer of this kind, able to run at room temperature, would be able to deduce viable solutions from complex input. To infer information about a person by looking at their purchase behavior is a simple example of this type of issue. Instead of giving a single, definitive answer, the computer looks for patterns and makes a good guess as to what the answer might be.
There may be several ways to construct such a computer. However, some researchers are looking into using components known as magnetic tunnel junctions. These are constructed from two magnetic metal layers spaced apart by a very thin insulator. Electrons tunnel through the insulating layer when these nanomagnetic devices are thermally activated in the presence of an electric current and magnetic field.
They can alter or produce variations inside the magnets depending on their rotation. Probabilistic computing may be based on these fluctuations, also known as p-bits, which are an alternative to the on/off or 0/1 bits that we are all familiar with from classical computers. However, researchers must be able to explain the physics of magnetic tunnel junctions to design probabilistic computers.
“We have experimentally clarified the ‘switching exponent’ that governs fluctuation under the perturbations caused by magnetic field and spin-transfer torque in magnetic tunnel junctions. This gives us the mathematical foundation to implement magnetic tunnel junctions into the p-bit in order to sophisticatedly design probabilistic computers.
Our work has also shown that these devices can be used to investigate unexplored physics related to thermally activated phenomena,” explained Shun Kanai from the Research Institute of Electrical Communication at Tohoku University