A memristor /ˈmemrɪstər/ ("memory resistor") is any of various kinds of passive two-terminal circuit elements that maintain a functional relationship between the time integrals of current and voltage. This function, called memristance, is similar to variable resistance. Specifically engineered memristors provide controllable resistance, but such devices are not commercially available. Other devices like batteries and varistors have memristance, but it does not normally dominate their behavior. The definition of the memristor is based solely on fundamental circuit variables, similarly to the resistor, capacitor, and inductor. Unlike those three elements, which are allowed in linear time-invariant or LTI system theory, memristors are nonlinear and may be described by any of a variety of time-varying functions of net charge. There is no such thing as a generic memristor. Instead, each device implements a particular function, wherein either the integral of voltage determines the integral of current, or vice versa. A linear time-invariant memristor is simply a conventional resistor.
Memristor theory was formulated and named by Leon Chua in a 1971 paper. Chua extrapolated the conceptual symmetry between the resistor, inductor, and capacitor, and inferred that the memristor is a similarly fundamental device. Other scientists had already used fixed nonlinear flux-charge relationships, but Chua's theory introduces generality.On April 30, 2008 a team at HP Labs announced the development of a switching memristor. Based on a thin film of titanium dioxide, it has a regime of operation with an approximately linear charge-resistance relationship. These devices are being developed for application in nanoelectronic memories, computer logic, and neuromorphic computer architectures.