A Simple Conjecture
The Collatz conjecture is an unsolved mathematical riddle posed by German mathematician Lothar Collatz in 1937. It remains a mystery to this day. Why has it temped so many mathematicians over so many years and yet remained unsolved? It is especially exasperating because it is so simple. The question is, “Is it even computable?” If not, then mathematicians and computer scientists should stop trying.
Continue reading The Collatz Mystery
A strategic inflection point is a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.
—Andrew S. Grove, Only the Paranoid Survive (1988)
In the late 1960s Intel sniffed the winds of change and made a dramatic decision to build microprocessors instead of random access memory, RAM. Former Intel CEO Andy Grove describes this abrupt change in Intel’s strategy as an inflection point. As we know from mathematics, the coordinates of an inflection point are where a curve changes direction—typically from up to down or the reverse. In the case of young Intel, the RAM business was no longer profitable, and yet, the profitability of microprocessor chips was totally unknown. It was a choice between dying along with the RAM market or possibly dying with an unproven product in a non-existent market. We now know Grove was right, but he could have been wrong. Such is the life of an entrepreneur.
It has been 50 years since Intel’s inflection point was recognized and then mostly forgotten. But the company and the industry it grew up with is facing another inflection point—the demise of Dennard scaling—the 1974 rule that the power consumption of CMOS chips remains constant as transistors are scaled down in size. Continue reading The 50-year Inflection Point
As Moore’s Law runs out of steam, and fabrication of Boolean circuits on silicon appears to be reaching its limits, some computer scientists and physicists are looking beyond the limits of current computing to “reversible computing.” That is, instead of one-way circuits that produce a deterministic output from given inputs, reversible computing works both ways: Inputs can be obtained from outputs by running the circuits in reverse. Generally speaking, computation runs in one direction, producing outputs from inputs, without the ability to run backwards and compute inputs from outputs. Continue reading Is Computing in Reverse the Next Big Thing?
The internal combustion engine (ICE) has reigned supreme for over 100 years, but prognosticators are predicting its demise over the next few decades – or NOT, depending on your data analytics. Like all technologies, sooner or later a disruptive replacement comes along and renders the status quo extinct. Will electric vehicle (EV) technology be the disruption that kills the ICE? I think so, but the future of EV transportation is not guaranteed.
Continue reading The end of ICE is near – or not?