Digital systems have integrated into our lives in an unprecedented way. From life-support systems (pacemakers, cochlear implants), communication and entertainment devices (cell phones, MP3 players), information hubs (Internet, TV), etc., digital systems help keep us entertained, comfortable, and generally increase the standard of life.
Shrivastava says, “At the time our reliance on computing systems is at its greatest, computing hardware is beginning to become unreliable. Cosmic particles, e.g., neutrons floating around in the environment, may strike a transistor, and switch its logic state. This can have dire consequences, from spectacular program and system crashes, to subtle wrong results. As the transistor sizes are shrinking, even low-energy particle strike can cause an error.”
“Even though the hardware is fundamentally becoming more susceptible to such ‘soft errors,’ we still want to keep our computation correct,” he says.
Shrivastava and his team of students are developing compiler techniques which will detect and compensate for such errors, and provide reliable computation on unreliable hardware.