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Boolean logic by convective obstacle flows

Bartlett, S. J. and Yung, Y. L. (2019) Boolean logic by convective obstacle flows. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences, 475 (2228). Art. No. 20190192. ISSN 1364-5021. doi:10.1098/rspa.2019.0192.

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We present a potential new mode of natural computing in which simple, heat-driven fluid flows perform Boolean logic operations. The system comprises a two-dimensional single-phase fluid that is heated from below and cooled from above, with two obstacles placed on the horizontal mid-plane. The obstacles remove all vertical momentum that flows into them. The horizontal momentum extraction of the obstacles is controlled in a binary fashion, and constitutes the 2-bit input. The output of the system is a thresholded measure of the energy extracted by the obstacles. Due to the existence of multiple attractors in the phase space of this system, the input–output relationships are equivalent to those of the OR, XOR or NAND gates, depending on the threshold and obstacle separation. The ability to reproduce these logical operations suggests that convective flows might have the potential to perform more general computations, despite the fact that they do not involve electronics, chemistry or multiple fluid phases.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemSupplementary Information
Bartlett, S. J.0000-0001-5680-476X
Yung, Y. L.0000-0002-4263-2562
Additional Information:© 2019 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. Manuscript received 28/03/2019; Manuscript accepted 16/07/2019; Published online 14/08/2019; Published in print 08/2019. Data accessibility: The simulation code for generating all results can be found in the electronic supplementary material. Authors' contributions: S.J.B. first noticed that convective systems might have computational abilities, he wrote the code for the simulations, analysed the results and wrote the paper. Y.L.Y. provided guidance and advice. We declare we have no competing interests. This work was supported by the Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences Discovery Fund. Y.L.Y. was supported in part by an NAI Virtual Planetary Laboratory grant from the University of Washington to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and California Institute of Technology.
Group:Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary SciencesUNSPECIFIED
University of WashingtonUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:convection, computation, Boolean logic
Issue or Number:2228
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190911-154806058
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Bartlett SJ, Yung YL. 2019 Boolean logic by convective obstacle flows. Proc. R. Soc. A 475: 20190192.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:98591
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:11 Sep 2019 23:05
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:40

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