Special Purpose Computers for Statistical Physics: achievements and lessons

by   Lev N. Shchur, et al.

In the late 80s and 90s, theoretical physicists of the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics designed and developed several specialized computers for challenging computational problems in the physics of phase transitions. These computers did not have a central processing unit. They optimize algorithms to handle elementary operations on integers – read, write, compare, and count. The approach allowed them to achieve recording run times. Computers performed calculations three orders of magnitude faster than similar calculations on the world's best supercomputers. The approach made it possible to obtain fundamentally new results, some of which have not yet been surpassed in the accuracy of calculations. The report will present the main ideas for the development of specialized computers and the scientific results obtained with their help. The lessons of planning and execution of long-term complex scientific projects will also be discussed.



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