ICRC 2018

IEEE International Conference on Rebooting Computing (ICRC 2018)

7-9 November 2018
Tysons, Virginia, USA, near Washington DC
Conference Summary

ICRC 2018

Dr. Bill Chappell of DARPA presenting plenary talk at ICRC 2018.

ICRC 2018 was part of IEEE Rebooting Computing Week. Other related IEEE conferences and workshops held at the same venue included the Industry Summit on the Future of Computing, a workshop for the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS™), a Workshop on Confluence of Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence, and a Workshop on Benchmarks for Quantum Computing (PDF, 77 KB).

In its 3rd year, the ICRC is the premier venue for novel computing approaches, including software, architectures, new devices and circuits, new materials and physics, and applications driving change in all these items. This is an interdisciplinary conference that has participation from a broad technical community, with emphasis on all aspects of the computing stack.

ICRC 2018 was chaired by Dr. Erik DeBenedictis of Sandia National Laboratory, with Prof. Tom Conte of Georgia Institute of Technology chairing the program. The presentations included plenary and invited talks, several sessions of technical papers, a poster session, a government panel, and an evening session with “Wild and Crazy Ideas” (WACI).

The proceedings of ICRC 2018 will be available on IEEE Xplore, and videos of the several of the presentations will be accessible on IEEE.tv.

The plenary presentations included Dr. William Chappell of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and Dr. Paolo Faraboschi of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Dr. Chappel spoke about “Inflections,” how DARPA has worked closely with industry and academia (including competitive challenges) to promote new technologies to the level that industry can develop these on its own. Examples Chappell cited included self-driving cars, mobile robots, and smart wireless communications. Most recently, Chappell’s DARPA directorate introduced the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI), which attempts to reboot computing technology after the end of Moore’s Law. The video of Dr. Chappell’s talk is available here.

Dr. Faraboschi spoke about “Computing in the Cambrian Era.” This is a reference to a period in ancient earth history some 500 million years ago, when the growth in the diversity of life forms in the oceans suddenly exploded. By analogy, the end of Moore’s Law and the explosion of Big Data are leading to a proliferation of diverse computing technologies, optimized for different technological niches. These include GPUs, TPUs, analog, neuromorphic, optical, superconducting, and quantum computing. This is also creating a crisis in interconnections and communications at all levels, and in software development to manage it all. While not all proposed technologies will ultimately be successful, this is an exciting time for the computer industry. The video of Dr. Faraboschi’s talk is available here.

An invited talk on Reversible Computing was given by Dr. Michael Frank of Sandia National Laboratory. This provides a general approach to the development of computers that can be orders of magnitude more energy efficient than current technologies. While reversible computing has been a research topic for decades, this technology was not substantially developed during the era of Moore’s Law. Now that power limitations have become critical for both large supercomputers and small mobile and edge computing, it is time to reexamine this approach for possible future breakthroughs.

The Government Panel consisted of 5 representatives of various US government agencies, and provided an opportunity for audience participation. The panelists covered the range from government research labs (Naval Research Lab, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Dept. of Energy Labs) through funding agencies (DARPA and IARPA) to policy (White House Office of Science & Technology Policy). Topics discussed included artificial intelligence, quantum information, exascale computing, cryogenic computing, neuromorphic computing, and cybersecurity.

The technical sessions included 25 talks on topics such as novel computing paradigms, optical computing and networks, neuromorphic computing, quantum computing and simulation, molecular computing, and hybrid analog-digital computing. These 25 papers were accepted after review by the publications committee and will appear soon in the conference proceedings in IEEE Xplore.

Another special technical session was a Workshop on Benchmarking Quantum Computational Devices and Systems (PDF, 77 KB), which was a follow-up of an IEEE Summit on Quantum Computing in August 2018. An IEEE Working Group on Quantum Computing, led by Erik DeBenedictis of Sandia and Travis Humble of Oak Ridge National Lab, has been tasked with developing a set of preliminary metrics and benchmarks for the newly developing quantum computing technology. A preliminary document on this topic is available online (PDF, 116 KB) and open for comment until Jan. 31, 2019. Some of the participants in the workshop argued that the technology is so immature that it may not be ready for benchmarks, while others point out that some near-term computing systems such as quantum annealers are already available, and capable of addressing computational problems of interest.

The poster session included 14 posters on a wide range of topics, including quantum computing, neural networks, cellular automata, analog computing, image recognition, and machine learning.

The WACI session presented, in an informal fashion with audience participation, a variety of novel but undeveloped ideas, such as future autonomous transportation, hybrid quantum-neuromorphic computing, and new algorithms to dramatically enhance computational efficiency for certain problems.

Finally, the conference included an IEEE Fellow grade elevation ceremony with the IEEE Fellow certificate presented to Prof. Greg Snider of the University of Notre Dame, for contributions to single-electron-based computing technology.


ICRC 2018 Plenary: The Upcoming Era of Specialization and the Research Needed to Make It Work for Our Country, Dr. William Chappell, DARPA


ICRC 2018 Plenary: Computing in the Cambrian Era, Dr. Paolo Faraboschi, HPE