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EEXIST Overview

EEXIST is a further extension of the Cell Matrix and the Songline Processor (SLP). Whereas the SLP replaces binary truth table values with real numbers, it still imposes a sense of spatial discretization (cells are distinct, atomic units). It also presents to each cell C a fixed, finite set of neighbors who can be the subject or object of configuration operations with C. EEXIST removes these restrictions, by considering each point in space to be a cell, and having each of these point-cells simultaneously affect and be affected by all points in the system (including, of course, itself). This creates a system that, like the previous generations, incorporates self-analysis and self-modification through the lowest levels. By further breaking down the separation between subject and object -- and allowing each piece of the system to take both roles simultaneously -- EEXIST seeks to emulate a processing system which is perhaps (in some intuitive sense) more in harmony with how the universe operates.

This creates a system that, like the previous generations, incorporates self-analysis and self-modification through the lowest levels. By further breaking down the separation between subject and object -- and allowing each piece of the system to take both roles simultaneously -- EEXIST seeks to emulate a processing system which is perhaps (in some intuitive sense) more in harmony with how the universe operates.

The flip side of this agenda is that the system is difficult to use for implementing traditional, procedural algorithms. However, by re-introducing spatial discretization (thinking of discrete elements); temporal discretization (adding a notion of a timestep to the operation); and restricting each element's effects to a single target object, the system acts as a simple, VLIW microcoded machine. EEXIST thus appears to represent a larger architectural space, within which traditional Von Neumann architectures represent a lower-dimensional subset. This is one of the intriguing aspects of EEXIST: it's apparent widening of the design space.

The question of extending this initial structure into one that has spatial and temporal continuity, as well as distributed effects, is an interesting one. The intial approach explored was to consider a mixture of 2 chemicals named "src" and "dst.," occupying a one-dimensional collection of thin tubes, each with a given X coordinate. The amount of src and dst chemicals corresponds to the X coordinate of two tubes, and specifies a transfer of fluid (from src to dst). The rate at which fluid is transferred can be fixed, or based on the current difference in concentrations, or defined per-tube (or per-region) as an additional parameter. This paper develops some of these ideas further.

Utilizing such a system thus requires new approaches to algorithm design. In fact, it's currently unknown how to encode an algorithm into the system. Alternate approaches, such as using genetic programming to develop desired behavior, are presently being explored.

Additionally, there is interest in simply observing the behavior of EEXIST under different conditions, seeking to understand what sorts of behaviors the system is capable of exhibiting. So far these behaviors include:

  • complex behavior arising out of a simple initial state;
  • simple behavior arising from a complex initial state; and
  • dynamic behavior that does not vanish over time, yet doesn't appear to repeat.