Research IT Expertise Helps Human Brain Simulation

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Research IT has been providing the SpiNNaker project with research software engineer (RSE) expertise to help them simulate billions of simple neurons in order to create brain inspired computing systems.

The Human Brain Project is an EU project launched in 2013 with a series of objectives including:

  • Gather, organise and disseminate data describing the brain and its diseases
  • Simulate the brain
  • Build multi-scale scaffold theory and models for the brain
  • Develop brain-inspired computing, data analytics and robotics

The University of Manchester is involved in the Neuromorphic Computing section, which is about creating brain-inspired hardware systems on which the neuroscience community can run experimental networks to test out theories, and on which other researchers can test brain-inspired theories of future computation.  Manchester is specifically responsible for the SpiNNaker neuromorphic hardware system, which contains ~1 million ARM cores connected with a neurally-inspired communication network, allowing networks of up to a billion simple neurons to be simulated.

Research IT has been providing research software engineer (RSE) expertise to the SpiNNaker project for the last two years.  A RSE is a professional software developer with particular expertise in creating software for academic research.  They work with researchers to produce high quality scientific software to create reliable, sustainable and efficient code.

Andrew Rowley has been the RSE who has been working with the SpinNNaker team for the last 2 years in an embedded role.  He has been providing RSE expertise to SpiNNaker to allow them to concentrate on the hardware side of the project.  By bringing in the expertise in large-scale software development which Research IT had on hand, they did not have to go through a lengthy recruitment process for a temporary post.

RSEs are available to collaborate with University of Manchester researchers on the software engineering aspects of research projects. If your research team could benefit from the expertise of a research software engineer then please see our website for further details or get in touch.

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