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Title: Reconstruction, identification and implementation methods for spiking neural circuits
Author: Florescu, Dorian
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 9103
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2016
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Integrate-and-fire (IF) neurons are time encoding machines (TEMs) that convert the amplitude of an analog signal into a non-uniform, strictly increasing sequence of spike times. This thesis addresses three major issues in the field of computational neuroscience as well as neuromorphic engineering. The first problem is concerned with the formulation of the encoding performed by an IF neuron. The encoding mechanism is described mathematically by the t-transform equation, whose standard formulation is given by the projection of the stimulus onto a set of input dependent frame functions. As a consequence, the standard methods reconstruct the input of an IF neuron in a space spanned by a set of functions that depend on the stimulus. The process becomes computationally demanding when performing reconstruction from long sequences of spike times. The issue is addressed in this work by developing a new framework in which the IF encoding process is formulated as a problem of uniform sampling on a set of input independent time points. Based on this formulation, new algorithms are introduced for reconstructing the input of an IF neuron belonging to bandlimited as well as shift-invariant spaces. The algorithms are significantly faster, whilst providing a similar level of accuracy, compared to the standard reconstruction methods. Another important issue calls for inferring mathematical models for sensory processing systems directly from input-output observations. This problem was addressed before by performing identification of sensory circuits consisting of linear filters in series with ideal IF neurons, by reformulating the identification problem as one of stimulus reconstruction. The result was extended to circuits in which the ideal IF neuron was replaced by more biophysically realistic models, under the additional assumptions that the spiking neuron parameters are known a priori, or that input-output measurements of the spiking neuron are available. This thesis develops two new identification methodologies for [Nonlinear Filter]-[Ideal IF] and [Linear Filter]-[Leaky IF] circuits consisting of two steps: the estimation of the spiking neuron parameters and the identification of the filter. The methodologies are based on the reformulation of the circuit as a scaled filter in series with a modified spiking neuron. The first methodology identifies an unknown [Nonlinear Filter]-[Ideal IF] circuit from input-output data. The scaled nonlinear filter is estimated using the NARMAX identification methodology for the reconstructed filter output. The [Linear Filter]-[Leaky IF] circuit is identified with the second proposed methodology by first estimating the leaky IF parameters with arbitrary precision using specific stimuli sequences. The filter is subsequently identified using the NARMAX identification methodology. The third problem addressed in this work is given by the need of developing neuromorphic engineering circuits that perform mathematical computations in the spike domain. In this respect, this thesis developed a new representation between the time encoded input and output of a linear filter, where the TEM is represented by an ideal IF neuron. A new practical algorithm is developed based on this representation. The proposed algorithm is significantly faster than the alternative approach, which involves reconstructing the input, simulating the linear filter, and subsequently encoding the resulting output into a spike train.
Supervisor: Coca, Daniel ; Billings, Stephen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available