We present a new approach to the engineering of collective analog computing systems that emphasizes the role of currents as an appropriate signal representation and the need for low-power dissipation and simplicity in the basic functional circuits. The design methodology and implementation style that we describe are inspired by the functional and organizational principles of neuronal circuits in living systems. We have implemented synthetic neurons and synapses in analog CMOS VLSI that are suitable for building associative memories and self-organizing feature maps.

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