18-869D: Special Topics in CAD: Wild and Crazy Ideas in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Units: 12

This class is meant to be an 8XX-level class focused on far reaching ideas that will shape the design of future "computational platforms", where computational platforms have a broader meaning than just traditional silicon. Specifically, this class discusses topics that may have a significant impact 5-10 years from now, rather than one or a couple of years from now. Longer term, such an incubator of new ideas may lead to regular classes in our curriculum that may replace or add to some of current offerings at 6XX or 7XX levels.

By way of context, recent conferences in computing have offered special sessions dedicated to far-fetched ideas. Some of these wild ideas may actually end up in real products and thinking big and out-of-the-box may lead to significant impact on various (and sometime unexpected) areas of research. From this perspective, such a course may encourage students to work on high-risk, high-pay-off projects, while getting involved in cutting-edge research in computer engineering.

The contents of the course is centered around a few interesting ideas proposed in recent years for new computational substrates and paradigms at nano-scale, multicore systems, memory and programming concepts, user modeling and interfaces, energy minimization and scavenging, and other select topics. Research papers will be distributed in class and ideas will be discussed and debunked in group discussions. The main goal is to examine the merits of new ideas but, more importantly, identify the larger context to which these ideas belong. Consequently, while discussing these topics students will also learn the science behind these ideas with concepts and techniques ranging from stochastic modeling for nano-technologies to critical phenomena in information networks, from swarms and group behavior to emerging multi-scale behavior in software.

The course requirements consist of a few homeworks, a semester-long project, and in-class presentations based on relevant papers. Some assignments may involve Matlab and system level HDLs. By structure and contents, this class targets primarily the computer engineering students, but it also provides a valuable foundation for interdisciplinary research to students in electrical engineering, computer science and related disciplines.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing


Computer Hardware, Computer Hardware Engineering

Last modified on 2010-10-11

Past semesters:

S14, S13, S12, S11, S10