In this paper we present results from the first use of neural networks for real-time control of the high-temperature plasma in a tokamak fusion experiment. The tokamak is currently the principal experimental device for research into the magnetic confinement approach to controlled fusion. In an effort to improve the energy confinement properties of the high-temperature plasma inside tokamaks, recent experiments have focused on the use of noncircular cross-sectional plasma shapes. However, the accurate generation of such plasmas represents a demanding problem involving simultaneous control of several parameters on a time scale as short as a few tens of microseconds. Application of neural networks to this problem requires fast hardware, for which we have developed a fully parallel custom implementation of a multilayer perceptron, based on a hybrid of digital and analogue techniques.

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