BrainScaleS Conference: From Neurobiology to New Computer Architectures
25 September 2014
The European BrainScaleS project has made groundbreaking progress over the last four years by linking neuroscientific findings with mathematical modelling and developing innovative computer architectures. To review the major project results and explore them in the context of worldwide research in this field, researchers will gather for the 4th Frontiers in Neuromorphic Computing Conference on 2 October 2014, hosted by the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics of Heidelberg University. In addition to researchers from the interdisciplinary research network of 17 European partners, renowned scientists from the USA, Canada, Japan and Switzerland are also expected to attend this final BrainScaleS conference.
The BrainScaleS project, which was funded by the European Union with 9.2 million euros, represents an intensive interdisciplinary collaboration between experimental and theoretical neuroscientists, engineers and physicists. The project revolved around the design and implementation of so-called demonstrators, in which specific cognitive tasks of biological systems from neurobiology are taken and implemented in synthetic networks. The spectrum ranges from simple perception and perception-action loops to abstract, function-driven neuronal networks. The conceptual work in the project provide the inspiration for the construction of new types of computers that differ fundamentally from the established Von Neumann architecture of standard digital computers. The result was a neuromorphic computer whose architecture is comparable only to that developed at IBM Research – Almaden in the USA and the University of Manchester (Great Britain).
International speakers at the Frontiers in Neuromorphic Computing Conference are Palm Computing founder Jeff Hawkins, who now heads the Numenta start-up firm in Silicon Valley, and the Director of the Center for Neural Science at New York University, Tony Movshon. The list of speakers also features Chris Eliasmith, author of the book “How to Build a Brain,” Tomoki Fukai from the RIKEN research institution in Japan and Sam Gershman from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Also expected is Thomas Schulthess of ETH Zurich, the director of Europe’s most powerful supercomputer.
The BrainScaleS project is one of the pillars of the European Human Brain Project (HBP) launched a year ago; Heidelberg University will also host the HBP’s annual conference from 29 September to 1 October 2014. The Heidelberg working group led by Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Meier initiated and directed BrainScaleS.