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November 12, 2010

Michel Cosnard, President-General Director of INRIA

Yesterday, thanks to Jean Paul Jacob and Jim Spohrer, I had an opportunity to spend some time with Professor Michel Cosnard, President-General Director of INRIA.

Michel Cosnard

BIO: Michel Cosnard has been Chairman and CEO of INRIA, since 2006. Previously, Michel Cosnard served as Professor at Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon and from 1997, as director of the INRIA Research Unit in Lorraine. In 2001, he was nominated director of the INRIA Research Unit in Sophia Antipolis and served as Professor at the University of Nice - Sophia Antipolis.

Michel Cosnard obtained a Master of Science degree in 1975 from Cornell University and a Doctorat d'Etat in 1983 from Université de Grenoble. Michel Cosnard has been member of the FP6 IST Evaluation Committee, chaired by Eskko Aho. He is currently member of ISTAG (Information Society Technologies Advisory Group), and chairs the ISTAG-FET working group. His research interests are in the design and analysis of parallel algorithms, in the complexity analysis of automata and neural nets. Michel Cosnard has published more than 100 papers related to parallel processing. He served as Editor of many scientific journals. He received a prize from the French Academy of Science, the IFIP Silver Core and IEEE Babbage award. In 2007, Michel Cosnard was awarded the title of Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.

November 10, 2010

Marc-Oliver Gewaltig

Marc-Oliver Gewaltig 












Today, we had a beautiful talk by Dr. Marc-Oliver Gewaltig. The quality of research on-going at Honda Research Institute is absolutely world-class. Previously, we have had the honor to host Prof. Dr.- Ing. habil. Edgar Koerner who is now the Chairman of the Honda Research Institute.

TITLE: Structural Principles of Cortical Memory and Information Processing

ABSTRACT: The performance, efficiency, and robustness of neural systems are unrivalled even by modern super-computers. The human brain comprises of 10^15 neurons and synapses, all operating concurrently and each at a dedicated position. But even insect brains with less than 10,000 neurons are unrivaled by modern technology. We propose that the structural and architectural principles of the brain are a main ingredient to the brain’s unattained performance. In this talk we present results, which illustrate at different levels, how structural and architectural principles of neural structures enable and improve information processing and memory performance. At a global level, architectural principles like modularity and laminarization enable both, bottom-up driven and top-down mediated information processing. We substantiate these ideas in a dynamic columnar cortex model with spiking neurons, which robustly recognizes composite objects.   Next, we discuss an extension of this model that uses so-called Liquid-state machines to equip neurons with spatio-temporal receptive fields. Here, the structure of the recurrent connectivity can be optimized to reduce connections that do not contribute significantly, thus reducing the metabolic (and computational) costs of the network. We then extend this idea to a model of correlation based structural plasticity which optimizes the formation and consolidation of memory traces, using cortico-hippocampal interactions. Finally, we give a short overview over our neural simulation tool NEST which has been chosen as priority target for the next super-computer in Kobe, Japan.

BIO: Dr. Marc-Oliver Gewaltig studied Physics and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Bochum. After his graduation he went to the University of Freiburg to pursue his Ph.D. with Prof. Ad Aertsen. After his dissertation in 1999 he joined Honda R&D Europe GmbH as Senior Scientist. In 2003, Marc-Oliver Gewaltig was appointed Principal Scientist and Project Leader of the newly founded Honda Research Institute Europe GmbH in Offenbach, Germany. His research focuses on information processing in the visual cortex of mammals in general and on spike-based processing in columnar cortical architectures in particular. His second research focus is on efficient algorithms and methods for the simulation of large neuronal systems. In 2001, Dr. Gewaltig co-founded the NEST Initiative, a consortium, dedicated to advancing our understanding of neural simulation technology, for which he is also the coordinator. Since 2004, the NEST Initiative releases the popular simulation software NEST.