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In Silico: Simulators, Emulators and the Human Brain Project

October 16, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Title: In Silico: Simulators, Emulators and the Human Brain Project
Abstract: The European Human Brain Project, a flagship project of the European Union, recently ended after 10 years of research and development. The goals of the HBP were to (1) explore the complexity of the human brain in space and time; (2) to transfer the knowledge broadly; (3) to provide research infrastructure for neuro-science; and (4) to create a community of researchers. One of the major challenges is to model neural activity, from micro- to macro-scale, in a way that enables simulation of the human brain. This leads to so-called in silico experiments, which will be used “to validate models, and to perform investigations that are not possible in the laboratory”. I will present examples of such experiments and discuss how they relate to, and can benefit from, statistical research on the design and analysis of computer experiments. My students and colleagues and I have been working on the potential advantages of replacing a slow/expensive simulator with a much faster and cheaper statistical emulator. Emulators are empirical replicas trained on data generated with the simulator. We have often used Gaussian process regression for this purpose, but in some applications other methods (random forests, polynomial regression) proved more effective. Emulators can be especially useful when the simulator runs are matched to data in the context of statistical inference. I will discuss the modeling options and present examples, including simulation of neural basket cells, calcium induced neural reactions, and stochastic simulators like the Hodgkin-Huxley model.

This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under the Specific Grant Agreement No. 785907 (Human Brain Project SGA2) and the Specific Grant Agreement No. 945539 (Human Brain Project SGA3).

Bio: Professor Steinberg received his PhD in Statistics in 1983 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, under the supervision of the legendary George Box. He has spent most of his academic career at Tel Aviv University, while also being a consultant for many organizations and industries outside academia. He was elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2008 and awarded the Gordon Chair for Probabilistic Mathematics in 2018. He works on a variety of topics in statistics, industrial statistics and biostatistics, including experimental design and smoothing methods.

Speaker: David Steinberg

Professor, Department of Statistics and Operations Research

School of Mathematical Sciences

Tel-Aviv University


October 16, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


HDSI General


 David Steinberg Professor, Department of Statistics and Operations Research


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