We outline a hybrid analog-digital scheme for computing with three important features that enable it to scale to systems of large complexity: First, like digital computation, which uses several one-bit precise logical units to collectively compute a precise answer to a computation, the hybrid scheme uses several moderate-precision analog units to collectively compute a precise answer to a computation. Second, frequent discrete signal restoration of the analog information prevents analog noise and offset from degrading the computation. And, third, a state machine enables complex computations to be created using a sequence of elementary computations. A natural choice for implementing this hybrid scheme is one based on spikes because spike-count codes are digital, while spike-time codes are analog. We illustrate how spikes afford easy ways to implement all three components of scalable hybrid computation. First, as an important example of distributed analog computation, we show how spikes can create a distributed modular representation of an analog number by implementing digital carry interactions between spiking analog neurons. Second, we show how signal restoration may be performed by recursive spike-count quantization of spike-time codes. And, third, we use spikes from an analog dynamical system to trigger state transitions in a digital dynamical system, which reconfigures the analog dynamical system using a binary control vector; such feedback interactions between analog and digital dynamical systems create a hybrid state machine (HSM). The HSM extends and expands the concept of a digital finite-state-machine to the hybrid domain. We present experimental data from a two-neuron HSM on a chip that implements error-correcting analog-to-digital conversion with the concurrent use of spike-time and spike-count codes. We also present experimental data from silicon circuits that implement HSM-based pattern recognition using spike-time synchrony. We outline how HSMs may be used to perform learning, vector quantization, spike pattern recognition and generation, and how they may be reconfigured.

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