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Tuesday 30th October 2018 to Wednesday 31st October 2018

Isaac Newton Institute

United Kingdom


Many of today’s interesting problems stem from the ability to generate and process large volumes of data, such as for instance, intelligent power grids and smart cities that form part of the Internet of Things. But the ability to work with all this data has to match the demand and as Moore’s law stops scaling, chipmakers will no longer be able to shrink transistors small enough to continue the trend of doubling how many they can fit on their integrated circuits every 12 or 18 months. Clearly, if the speed of processing power is to continue to develop to meet such demands, new forms of computing need to be found; new algorithms need to be developed to make efficient use of these new forms of computation; and new mathematical challenges arise in the design and analysis of these new algorithms.

In addition to the development of quantum computers, a number of novel computational paradigms, or next-generation computing architectures are emerging and more are likely to follow. Many have been inspired by the fundamental structure and function of the human brain.  New computing paradigms are needed that are not only faster, use less power and are physically smaller, as well as those that could enable data storage/processing in contexts where current paradigms would be too expensive.

Neuromorphic computing for example, has included the development of chips that use “spiking neurons” as the basic computational building block. They attempt to model in silicon the massively parallel way the brain processes information as billions of neurons and trillions of synapses respond to sensory inputs such as visual and auditory stimuli. The implementation of neuromorphic computing at the hardware level can be realized by oxide-based memristors, threshold switches and transistors. Memristors are materials based on molecular or ionic mechanisms which act as conductors, emulating biological systems.

Similarly, massively-parallel computing structures, such as that developed as part of the UK’s Project Spinnaker, use “spiking networks” to sensibly simulate, in real time, the behaviour of a billion neurons. Additionally, advances in DNA-based data processing and storage are predicted to have a significant influence on theoretical and practical progress in the computer sciences.

So a key question is - what could you compute on new forms of computation?

Aims and Objectives

This workshop was a collaboration with GCHQ and aimed to investigate potential next-generation advances in novel computational paradigms. A key aim was to bring together relevant stakeholders from across various UK research communities and industry. It was hoped that this activity will help to build closer links and collaborations and aid the establishment of a joined up multi-disciplinary UK community for this area. Disciplines identified so far as being relevant include synthetic biology, neuroscience, metamaterials, electronics/electrical engineering, AI/Machine learning, computer science and robotics and physics.

The event also provided a forum for identifying challenges and increasing awareness of R&D activities across the different elements of the research communities. It was hoped that this will help to gain consensus on what the future research directions should be, for novel computational technologies, stimulating further interest from end-users towards helping to develop and invest in the novel computer paradigms area.
Over the two days, this event included presentations from researchers as well as an end-user session, where ‘problem holders’ will present on current and future challenges and reflect how new computational innovations might be of benefit and how they might be implemented. Areas covered included a number of key current and future research directions will be highlighted including:

  • Neuromorphic computing - such as memristors and massively parallel computing structures

  • Biologically inspired paradigms – DNA based computation and storage

  • Materials for novel circuits

  • Novel architectures

  • Problem owner perspectives – to include security, healthcare and financial areas

In addition to talks, there was a break-out group session, so that the various research themes could be further explored. The workshop included a poster exhibition, which ran during the lunch and the drinks/networking session and there was also a short discussion and question session to finish.


A poster exhibition ran alongside the workshop and during the drinks reception. 

Registration and Venue

This event was initially by invitation, but we were also keen to hear from others from the various relevant communities who were interested in attending. 

Nearby en-suite B&B accommodation was reserved and further information was provided to invited participants upon registration.

The workshop took place at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge. Please see the Isaac Newton Institute website for further information about the venue.

In collaboration with