CERN Computing Colloquium

Analog Computing - past, present, future?

by Prof. Bernd Ulmann (FOM, Frankfurt)

503/1-001 - Council Chamber (CERN)

503/1-001 - Council Chamber


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As classic stored-program digital computers are reaching physical and practical limits with respect to clock frequency, integration density, and suffer from problems like Amdahl's law, unconventional approaches to high-speed and/or high-energy-efficient computing can offer a path to more computing power at lower power consumption.One of these approaches are analog computers which solve problems by means of analog electronic models of the underlying mathematical equations. Largely forgotten since the late 1970s, analog computers are about to return in the form of fully reconfigurable integrated circuits. Coupling these with traditional digital computers yields so-called hybrid computers which combine the best of two worlds, the programmability and vast program libraries available for digital computers as well as the high performance and low power consumption of analog computers. This talk briefly covers the history of analog computing, gives examples of current applications and future developments.

About the speaker

Bernd Ulmann is a professor for business computer science at the FOM University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt/Germany. He studied mathematics and philosophy at the university of Mainz, He received his PHD at the university of Hamburg for a thesis about history and technology of analog computing.

Since 2000 he maintains a museum with mainframes and a world-wide unique collection of analog computers in Germany. He recently presented the on-board control system for the german A4/V2 rocket and Helmut Hoelzer's first general purpose analog computer at the NASA Apollo 11 50th anniversary in Huntsville.

Bernd Ulmann is author of several books in the field of analog computing. In 1999 he founded the company Raven Technology GmbH - today incorporating the team of Analog Paradigm (, which is developing and selling analog and hybrid computers.

Today he is one of few world-wide renowned experts for analog computing technology.