2018 Nengo summer school


Introducing Braindrop with Nengo:

The Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo is excited to announce a special version of our annual Nengo summer school that will host the first public access to Braindrop, a new mixed analog-digital neuromorphic chip developed in collaboration with Stanford and Yale.

In addition to introducing Braindrop, this two-week school will teach participants to use the Nengo simulation package to build state-of-the-art cognitive and neural models to run both in simulation and on neuromorphic hardware. Nengo provides users with a versatile and powerful environment for designing cognitive and neural systems, and has been used to build what is currently the world’s largest functional brain model, Spaun. Nengo is also being used to program a variety of state-of-the-art neuromorphic chips, including Braindrop!

We welcome applications from all interested graduate students, research associates, postdocs, professors, and industry professionals. No specific training in the use of modelling software is required, but we encourage applications from active researchers with a relevant background in psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, robotics, neuromorphic engineering, or a related field. More information about Nengo, the Neural Engineering Framework, and Spaun can be found at http://www.nengo.ai. Many of the concepts to be covered are in this book.

Watch the videos below for a quick look at previous versions of the summer school!

Purpose: The main goal of the summer school is to have participants learn to build state-of-the-art neural or cognitive models using Nengo. Participants are encouraged to bring their own ideas for projects, which may focus on testing hypotheses, modelling neural or cognitive data, implementing specific behavioural functions with neurons, expanding past models, or provide a proof-of-concept of various neural mechanisms. Projects can be focused on software, hardware, or a combination of both.

Approach: Discussions during the school will help shape projects, develop new collaborations, and generate new ideas for projects. Participants will have the opportunity to learn how to:

  • interface Nengo with a variety of neuromorphic hardware systems, including Braindrop!
  • build models through detailed hands-on tutorials
  • build perceptual, motor, and cognitive models with spiking neurons
  • simulate large-scale models at a variety of levels of detail concurrently
  • model anatomical and electrophysiological data
  • model cognitive and behavioural data with a detailed neural model
  • use a variety of single cell models within a large-scale model
  • use your favorite simulator, e.g. NEST, Brian, Neuron, etc.
  • integrate machine learning methods into biologically oriented models
  • interface Nengo with cameras and robotic systems of various kinds
  • implement modern non-linear control methods in a neural model
  • and much more…

Format: The first few days of the summer school will be be devoted to in-depth tutorials on using Nengo for neural and cognitive modelling. The rest of summer school will be devoted primarily to project work, with a variety of faculty guest lectures and optional tutorials scheduled throughout. A project demonstration and evening banquet will be held on the last day, with a variety of prizes for strong projects! The complete schedule and list of guest lecturers will be announced at a later date.

Dates: June 3th - June 15th, 2018

Location: University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (map)

Cost: A registration fee is required of all participants (C$600 for academic participants; C$1200 for industry participants).

This fee includes the cost of breakfast, lunch, and snacks during each weekday of the school, along with a summer school T-shirt! Some evening meals will also be covered. Participants are responsible for covering the cost of their travel, accommodations, and recreational activities.

Travel: For most participants, arrival through Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is the most convenient option. The University of Waterloo is approximately a one hour drive away, and a number of shuttle services are available to take you directly to the University from the airport. A list of general travel options can be found here.

Accommodations: On Campus accommodations at Summer Accommodations located in Ron Eydt Village will be arranged for confirmed participants. Summer Accommodations is within walking distance of all summer school activities and a number of convenient options for meals and recreation. The summer school rates for these accommodations will be announced at a later date.

Applications: To apply, you will need to submit a CV and a brief proposal for a project. The application form is available here.

Application deadline: Applications are due on February 15th, 2018.

Contact information: For any questions, please contact Peter Blouw.