HBP Research Platforms Released
Mikael Djurfeldt, PDC
The Human Brain Project (HBP) is a ten year long project that started in 2013 and aims to create and operate a research infrastructure – based on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – to help advance brain research in neuroscience, medicine and computing. Since the article in an earlier PDC Newsletter (see no. 2, 2013 ) the HBP has been working on establishing its six ICT platforms, which were launched earlier this year on the 30th of March.
The six platforms are as follows:
- the Neuroinformatics Platform, a web platform and application-programming interface (API) that will allow users to register, search for and examine large volumes of neuroscience data,
- the Brain Simulation Platform, a suite of software tools and models that will allow users to construct and perform detailed simulations of the brain,
- the High Performance Analytics and Computing Platform, a hardware and software infrastructure that will provide the high performance computing, storage, and data processing capabilities to analyse large sets of complex data and to run sophisticated, detailed brain simulations,
- the Medical Informatics Platform, comprising innovative software that will allow users to access and analyse real patient data located in healthcare databases to help understand similarities and differences among brain diseases,
- the Neuromorphic Computing Platform, consisting of two configurable, complementary neuromorphic computing systems that will be able to emulate the microcircuits of the brain and apply principles that are similar to the way the brain learns and understands to computers, and
- the Neurorobotics Platform, a software and hardware platform that will allow users to connect virtual models of the brain to simulated robot bodies and environments.
These six HBP Platforms embody the key objectives of the HBP: to gather and disseminate data describing the brain, to simulate and build models of the brain, to develop brain-inspired computing and robotics, and to create a global scientific community around the developing research infrastructure. The development of the six platforms has been the result of an unprecedented multidisciplinary effort involving more than 750 scientific collaborators and engineers from 112 institutions in 24 countries.
Swedish Participation in HBP
The Swedish partners in the Human Brain Project are Uppsala University (Kathinka Evers), the Karolinska Institute (Sten Grillner and Kevin Grimes), KTH (Jeanette Hellgren Kotaleski and Erwin Laure) and the Linnaeus University (Abdul Mohammed). Anders Lansner was also part of the KTH participation during the start-up phase. Swedish researchers are participating in various areas of the project such as ethics, neuroinformatics and computational neuroscience.
During the start-up phase, Anders Lansner’s group was part of the neuromorphic subproject of HBP. Their activities included the development of benchmark models, such as a detailed model of layers two and three of the cerebral cortex, which can run on both supercomputers and neuromorphic hardware. The PDC Cray XC30 Milner was extensively used in this work.
Jeanette Hellgren Kotaleski from the Department of Computational Science and Technology at KTH is the deputy leader of the Brain Simulation Platform. Her group is currently using Milner at PDC for computer simulations of the basal ganglia and for the development of cell models for the Brain Simulation Platform (see the article Milner Update elsewhere in this newsletter).
Mikael Djurfeldt who is based at PDC is a member of the neuromorphic subproject in HBP. He uses Milner for the development of two software tools for large-scale neuronal network simulations, MUSIC, which facilitates co-simulation of neuronal network models (see the Milner Update article in this newsletter), and CSA, which is a library implementing a mathematical method for describing neuronal network connectivity. CSA is used to facilitate the setup of such connectivity in large-scale models.
PDC has also offered computer time on Milner, as well as access to neuromorphic hardware to the Human Brain Project – an offer which has been appreciated by the project and which may be taken up later.
The HBP Contribution to the Neuroscience Community
The six HBP Platforms will enable new kinds of collaborative research to be performed in neuroscience, medicine and computing. The prototype tools, hardware systems and initial data sets are designed to make faster and more efficient research techniques possible in areas such as modelling, in silico experimentation, or data analysis. Users are encouraged to explore the Platforms and to build interactive “collabs” as part of the HBP Collaboratory, a scientific research hub that is accessible via the web and that serves as the main entry point to the Platforms.
The HBP Collaboratory and the HBP Platforms are subject to restrictions on their use. In most cases these restrictions are due to limited computing or storage capacity powering the Platform service offerings. For example, supercomputing time and an account with a high performance computing centre are required by the High Performance Analytics and Computing and the Brain Simulation Platforms. The Neurorobotics Platform has a limited number of servers that can be used concurrently, and the initial data sets in the Neuroinformatics and Medical Informatics Platforms are limited. If you are interested in using the HBP Platforms, please see www.humanbrainproject.eu/en/hbp-platforms/getting-access for more details and guidance about accessing the platforms, as well as the terms of service and conditions of use for each of the platforms.