Artificial Intelligence

Brain-inspired AI code library passes 100,000 downloads

27th November 2023
Kristian McCann

UC Santa Cruz's Assistant Professor Jason Eshraghian has achieved a notable milestone in the field of AI with his development of the snnTorch Python library. 

This innovative tool, merging neuroscience with AI to create spiking neural networks, has recently surpassed 100,000 downloads. Its applications are diverse, extending from supporting NASA's satellite tracking initiatives to optimising semiconductor chips for AI, showcasing its significance in various high-technology sectors.

Four years ago, Eshraghian embarked on a project to combine his chip design expertise with his burgeoning interest in Python programming. The result was snnTorch, a machine learning method inspired by the brain's efficient data processing. Unlike traditional neural networks that continuously process data, snnTorch emulates the brain's neurons, which activate or 'spike' in response to specific information, leading to more energy-efficient processing.

Eshraghian's contribution is further elucidated in a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the IEEE. This document not only details the technicalities of snnTorch but also serves as an educational guide for those new to brain-inspired AI. The paper candidly addresses the uncertainties within the field and proposes a forward-looking perspective, emphasising the environmental benefits of more efficient neural networks and large language models.

The genesis of snnTorch was as a passion project during the pandemic. Eshraghian, with a background in chip design, realised the potential for enhancing power efficiency by synchronising software and hardware design. This led to the creation of a Python library that not only furthers this goal but also provides a learning platform for those interested in neuromorphic computing.

The widespread adoption of snnTorch is partly due to the extensive documentation and educational materials Eshraghian developed, which have become an accessible entry point for many into the realms of neuromorphic engineering and spiking neural networks.

In his paper for the IEEE, Eshraghian discusses the unsettled nature of brain-inspired deep learning research and sharing insights into why certain methodologies may prove successful. This approach has been well-received within the academic and industrial communities, with the paper even being utilised as onboarding material at neuromorphic hardware startups.
Eshraghian's paper also explores the challenges in aligning AI research with actual brain functionalities. He highlights the need for AI researchers to focus on real-time data processing, akin to brain operations, which could lead to more energy-efficient AI systems.

Additionally, Eshraghian's collaboration with the UCSC Genomics Institute’s Braingeneers group is an exciting venture. Working with cerebral organoids, or models of brain tissue grown from stem cells, he aims to garner deeper insights into brain processes. This interdisciplinary effort is a unique opportunity for UC Santa Cruz engineers to blend biological models with computing research, potentially leading to more efficient deep learning processes.

Eshraghian's commitment to this area of research extends to his teaching role at UC Santa Cruz. He leads a course titled “Brain-Inspired Deep Learning”, where students from various disciplines learn the fundamentals of deep learning and contribute to the snnTorch library, thereby gaining hands-on experience in the field.

The success of the snnTorch library and Eshraghian's recent publication in a leading computing journal underscore the dynamic and collaborative nature of neuromorphic computing.

Product Spotlight

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news
© Copyright 2024 Electronic Specifier