Brain in a Bottle, Structure and Algorithms


July 30, 2008


In this talk I will discuss a potential path towards building a massively connected machine with the processing power and connectivity similar to that of the human brain in one cubic meter. The construction method uses stochastic aggregation of modules to form a coherent highly-interconnected computer. We hope that the resulting system will provide a platform for performing brain related simulation and understanding algorithms and programming methods for massively connected computers.

The most interesting characteristic of our proposed machine is the interconnect. Preliminary simulations indicate that in the full scale machine each node will be able to communicate with over 100K other nodes. However, links are shared and the network behaves in a similar fashion to wireless networks with the associated advantages (broadcast is free) and disadvantages (hidden nodes and the need to negotiate for the use of a link). We have developed a working link protocol and have preliminary results on network routability. Using our communication primitives and the massive interconnectedness we have also developed a highly parallel version of the PageRank algorithm which depends on the connectivity of the machine.



Seth Copen Goldstein

Dr. Seth Copen Goldstein’s research focuses on computing systems and nanotechnology. Broadly speaking, Seth’s research is aimed at understanding systems nanotechnology. Among his research efforts are three research projects: the Phoenix project, the Claytronics project, and Brain in a bottle. The common theme among these projects is to understand how to design, manufacture, program, and use robust reconfigurable systems built with massive numbers of similar, and often unreliable, programmable units. Dr. Goldstein joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in 1997. He received his Masters and Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Before attending UC Berkeley, Seth was CEO and founder of Complete Computer Corporation. His undergraduate work was undertaken at Princeton University.The Brain in a bottle project is exploring how to build and use a brain-scale computing system using self-assembly for manufacturing and self-organizing networks for communication. The target is to put ~109 nodes into a 1 m3 volume for a total of 1011 MIPS, and most importantly in which each node will have approximately 106 connections to other nodes.The Claytronics project is investigating programmable matter. The goal of this project is to create an ensemble of sub-mm scale units which can be programmed to form dynamic macroscale 3D objects which can exert forces in the physical world. We are working on the hardware, software, and algorithms necessary to realize claytronics.