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Creating a crash-free computer out of chaos

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Researchers at University College London have developed a computer that instantly recovers from crashes, and they did it using a rather counterintuitive technique. As New Scientist reports, the key to UCL's self-repairing machine is its unique processing. Whereas today's computers are designed to execute one instruction at a time, in linear fashion, UCL's "systemic" computer completes a given set of tasks in simultaneous and random order. It distributes its set of instructions across several systems, meaning that if one system crashes, the computer can access uncorrupted files in another.

The idea, according to UCL computer scientist Peter Bentley, was to design a machine that more closely mimics the randomness found in nature, rather than the linear, mechanical processes that PCs traditionally execute. "Nature isn't like that," Bentley said. "Its processes are distributed, decentralised and probabilistic. And they are fault tolerant, able to heal themselves. A computer should be able to do that."