Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science

2009 Edition
| Editors: Robert A. Meyers (Editor-in-Chief)

Unconventional Computing, Introduction to

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-30440-3_574

Unconventional Computing deals with computing and informationprocessing derived from or implemented in physical, chemical and biological systems. As Toffoli said once “a computing scheme that today viewedas unconventional may well be so because its time hasn’t come yet – or is already gone” [1].

Mechanical and analogue computers are characteristics representatives ofsuch computing schemes. When mechanical computation concerned the unconventional computers can be traced back to many centuries old harmonic analyzers andsynthesizers, Napier’s bones , and Pascal’s wheeledcalculator , and they are revived recently in self‐assembling devices and molecular machines(see Mechanical Computing: The Computational Complexity of Physical Devices).

In 1876 Lord Kelvin envisaged that a computation by directly exploiting law of Nature [2]and invented differential analyzer. Ideas of analog computation emerged, flourished, almostdeceased by 1980s and then were resurrected in 1990s in ever growing field...

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  1. 1.
    Toffoli T (1998) Programmable matter methods. Future Gener Comput Syst 16:187–201Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Thomson W (1876) On an instrument for calculating integral of the product of two given functions (Lord Kelvin). Proc R Soc 24:266–275zbMATHGoogle Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the West of EnglandBristolUK