Memristor: a paradigm shift?

R. Stanley Williams at Hewlett Packard, in an article published in Nature, appears to have invented the memristor. And according to Professor Leon Chua of UC Berkeley, this represents more than just a nifty new chip component; it’s a total paradigm shift:

Electronic theorists have been using the wrong pair of variables all these years — voltage and charge. The missing part of electronic theory was that the fundamental pair of variables is flux and charge. The situation is analogous to what is called Aristotle’s Law of Motion, which was wrong, because he said that force must be proportional to velocity. That misled people for 2000 years until Newton came along and pointed out that Aristotle was using the wrong variables.

Chua, in the Information Week article, goes on to explain that this will have major ramifications for neural-net processing and power consumption. If this is all for real, it means we’ll someday be looking back on computing equipment produced in the last forty years as not just slow, oversized and outdated, but hopelessly primitive because it was designed based on faulty assumptions and is missing whole categories of useful functionality. How exciting.