Modelling: Build imprecise supercomputers

Lawrence Berkeley Natl Lab./Data: Michael Wehner (LBNL)/Visualization: Prabhat (LBNL) A simulation of Earth’s atmosphere generated by the Community Atmosphere Model. Today’s supercomputers lack the power to model accurately many aspects of the real world, from the impact of cloud systems on Earth’s climate to the processing ability of the human brain. Rather than wait decades for sufficiently powerful supercomputers — with their potentially unsustainable energy demands — it is time for researchers to reconsider the basic concept of the computer. We must move beyond the idea of a computer as a fast but otherwise traditional ‘Turing machine’, churning through calculations bit by bit in a sequential, precise and reproducible manner. In particular, we should question whether all scientific computations need to be performed deterministically — that is, always producing the…


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