The second assignment is now available. Deadline is 6. April. Lecture videos are available via your Learn page. For discussions of the course material we have a Piazza forum.


Neural Information Processing: Course homepage 2016-2017

This is a course for MSc level students. Undergraduate students in their fourth year should ask for permission to take the course, if they feel they have sufficient background in mathematics. It runs in semester 2.

Course catalogue entry

There has a recent surge of computational architectures inspired by how the brain works, and unlike previously, they actually perform well on certain tasks. At the same time advanced computational analysis is increasingly used to analyse and understand neural data. This course covers both these developments. After describing rigorous ways to describe neural activity mathematically, and introducing methods how high-dimensional neural activity patterns can be represented and modelled, we present a number of the architectures recently used to do tasks like image understanding, memory and cognition, as well as some brain inspired hardware implementations.

The background needed to successfully take this course is a good grounding in mathematics, particularly with regard to probability and statistics, vectors and matrices. The mathematical level required is similar to that which would be obtained by students who did not have significant difficulties with the courses Mathematics for Informatics 1-4 taken in the first two years of the Informatics undergraduate syllabus. The Neural Computation (NC) course is a helpful but not necessary prerequisite, as biological realism is not such an important objective as in the NC course. Machine learning courses (PMR, IAML, MLPR) will be also useful preparation, and complement the material covered here.

Instructors: Mark van Rossum and Matthias Hennig.


Monday and Thursday 9.00-9.50. Monday in G.05 of 50 George Square, Thursday in LG10 in the David Hume Tower

Course Outline

Class papers

Click this link. This list might be updated.


There will be two assessed assignments worth in total 25%. There will be an exam worth 75%.

First assignment. Use this Matlab/Octave code to generate spikes. Deadline is March 28th, 2018.

Second assignment, Deadline April 6th, 2018

Old assignments for practice: A1:12-13, A1:11-12, A1:10-11, A1:09-10, A1:08-09


See also references in the lecture notes.
Theoretical Neuroscience by P Dayan and L F Abbott (MIT Press 2001) is recommended reading, see also the list of errata.
Neuronal Dynamics by Wulfram Gerstner, Werner M. Kistler, Richard Naud and Liam Paninski. Full version online.
Natural Image Statistics by Aapo Hyvarinen, Jarmo Hurri, and Patrik O. Hoyer. Full version online.
Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms by David MacKay
Introduction To The Theory Of Neural Computation, Volume I by John Hertz.

Week-by-week listing (approximate)

Week 1

Introduction: lecture slides (2x2) , lecture slides (single page)

Week 2

Neural encoding: lecture slides (2x2) , lecture slides (single page)
Neural decoding: lecture slides, lecture slides (single page)

Week 3

Information theory: lecture slides, lecture slides (single page)

Week 4

Retina coding: lecture slides, lecture slides (single page)

Week 5

Higher order statistics : lecture slides, lecture slides (single page)

Week 6

Break week. No lectures.

Week 7

Maximum entropy models:
Lecture 1: slides
Lecture 2: slides
Mean constraint derivation.

Week 8

Maximum entropy models, contd.: slides
Hopfield model: slides

Week 9

Boltzmann machines: slides

Week 10

Restricted Boltzmann machines: lecture slides
Deep models: lecture slides

Week 11

Preparation of class papers

Week 12

Class papers presentations


Solutions to homework, MvR's part

This page is maintained by Mark van Rossum and Matthias Hennig .

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