Monthly Archives: June 2012

Welcome to Resonant Memory

This site is a repository for information about a theory of memory that relies on resonant circuits.

First, the requisite metaphor:

Imagine a room full of thousands of tuning forks. They are all mounted by their handles, and the frequency of each fork is printed clearly on each mount.

Tuning Fork

A tuning fork on a resonance box. From brian0918 at en.wikipedia.

I give you a task: find the 440 Hz tuning fork that is somewhere in the room.

If you think like a computer, you will methodically search the room, looking at the printed frequency on each fork, checking for 440. They aren’t in any order, so your search is exhaustive: you can’t stop until you find the right fork. If there are a bunch of 440 forks and you need to find every one of them, then you will have to examine every single fork to be sure you don’t miss any.

But physicists and musicians know a faster way: Bring your own 440 fork and hit it. It will hum out a nice Concert A and as soon as it does, the other 440 forks in the room will immediately resonate with it. You can walk right over to the resonating fork, no searching required. If you have to search for multiple forks, no problem: they are all resonating sympathetically with each other.

If we consider each fork to be a piece of information or a bit of memory, we might find this to be a useful real-world analog for a new kind of computing. The resonance technique has some benefits:

  • The information can be retrieved instantly
  • The information is recalled by presenting an example of the information itself: the information is “content-addressable”.
  • If the information doesn’t exist, you will know it instantly, because none of the existing information will resonate.
  • Multiple pieces of information can be found as fast as a single piece of information.

Due to the above benefits, this style of “resonant memory” could be superior to current address-based memory. Furthermore, it may actually provide a plausible neural code for brains.