A post on Slashdot caught my attention.  It was about a microchip from Lyric Semiconductor that does calculations using analog probabilities instead of digital bits of 1’s and 0’s.

The article says that this will both make flash storage more efficient and make statistical calculations quicker.  I doubt it will help with fitting simple regressions where have a fixed formula, but the first thing that came to mind were Bayesian problems, especially a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC).  Using BUGS to run these simulations can be VERY time consuming, so a faster approach would make the lives of many statisticians much easier.  The article did mention that the chip uses Bayesian NAND gates as opposed to digital NAND gates, but I don’t know how that relates to MCMC’s.

I reached out to my favorite Bayesian, Andy Gelman, to see what he thinks.  I’ll report back on what he says.

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.

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