Hybrid Continuous-Discrete Computer Architectures
We live in a world that is continuous: our eyes see scenes defined by continuous curves and intensities of colors, hear sounds formed by continuously varying pressure waves, and we sense velocity and temperature as continuous signals. In contrast, our computers operate in a discrete world, despite the continuous nature of the world at the scale our senses perceive. We finely divide time and space into quanta in order to model the real world on our digital computers. The inherent costs of digital computing have been ameliorated by digital computers’ exponential growth in computing power relative to energy consumption and size. However, as scaling in digital computers comes to an end, we must explore alternatives to digital, discrete computing.