Neural-inspired spike-based computing machines often claim to achieve considerable advantages in terms of energy and time efficiency by using spikes for computation and communication. However, fundamental questions about spike-based computation remain unanswered. For instance, how much advantage do spike-based approaches have over conventional methods, and under what circumstances does spike-based computing provide a comparative advantage? Simply implementing existing algorithms using spikes as the medium of computation and communication is not guaranteed to yield an advantage. Here, we demonstrate that spike-based communication and computation within algorithms can increase throughput, and they can decrease energy cost in some cases. We present several spiking algorithms, including sorting a set of numbers in ascending/descending order, as well as finding the maximum or minimum or median of a set of numbers. We also provide an example application: a spiking median-filtering approach for image processing providing a low-energy, parallel implementation. The algorithms and analyses presented here demonstrate that spiking algorithms can provide performance advantages and offer efficient computation of fundamental operations useful in more complex algorithms.

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