UC Irvine students Jayram Moorkanikara, Jeff Furlong and Matt Johnson were among the first-place winners of IBM’s Cell Broadband Engine Professor University Challenge on Sept. 24. The trio partnered with two students from Dartmouth College to use a Sony Playstation 3 to recreate how the human brain functions.
The group’s findings, which were showcased at the 2007 Power Architecture Developer Conference in Austin, Texas focused on reproducing brain algorithms. Brain algorithms are intricate step-by-step problem-solving procedures performed by the brain to complete everyday functions. Moorkanikara’s project was inspired by the human brain and its various functions.
‘I was interested in understanding and building hardware that mimics the behavior of the brain and that can be useful for many diverse applications,’ Moorkanikara said. ‘Understanding the features and ability of the brain have inspired me to look at these algorithms and develop suitable hardware to implement them.’
The group focused on the specific brain algorithm for visual processing. According to an article on CNNMoney.com, prior to the team’s work, standard processors could not handle the complex computations performed by the brain. When visual processing was attempted, machines tended to recognize objects slowly and inefficiently.
The UCI/Dartmouth team spent eight months getting around the problem of visual processing, according to Electronic Engineering Times. Ultimately, the group used three Playstation 3 systems, which formed a network that was then linked to a PC.
‘Most of the gaming systems