George Vathakkattil Joseph, a Ph.D. student in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering has come runner-up in the ThesisIn3 competition at UCD for his talk titled: "In-Sync: Learning to compute from fireflies".
ThesisIn3 is an annual competition for research students to showcase their work to a non-specialist audience using an entertaining yet informative 3-minute talk. George spoke about his work on synchronization and neuromorphic computing painting a lucid picture of fireflies flashing in synchrony. The talk can be found here:
George is a doctoral researcher in Dynamical Systems and Risk Lab (DSRL), headed by Prof. Vikram Pakrashi in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. His thesis explores novel forms of computation drawing inspiration from how the brain computes and elsewhere in nature such as fireflies. The phenomenon of synchronization allows oscillators connected to each other to solve computational problems in a radically different manner from traditional computing. Oscillators could be anything from a ball with a spring attached, or an electronic (LC) circuit, or even lasers. George's work focuses on understanding the classes of problems that can take advantage of this computing paradigm (this model has been called the 'Ising machine') by studying the mathematical models of coupled oscillators.
His work on brain-inspired neuromorphic computing has already been shown to be of immediate application in the field of structural health monitoring (SHM). An algorithm based on the ability of the brain to recognize patterns in speech was applied to recognize patterns in vibrations of structures. He implements his algorithms on a neuromorphic chip from Intel called Loihi, as a part of the Intel neuromorphic research community (INRC).