IIT Madras Winter Course on Machine Intelligence and Brain Research begins Today (2nd Jan 2020)


Chennai: The Winter Course on Machine Intelligence and Brain Research of the Center for Computational Brain Research (CCBR) at Indian Institute of Technology Madras commenced here today (2nd January 2020). The course is designed to provide to students and researchers an Interactive Perspective on Intelligence and Brains in general from a Neuroscience and Engineering viewpoint.

The Winter Course is being held from 2nd to 10th January 2020 on campus. The course had over 400 registrations with course credits being offered to 50 IIT Madras students. This year’s workshop consists of fundamental and research lectures from distinguished speakers from all over world as well as hands-on tutorials on fundamentals of neuroanatomy, machine learning and data analysis on brain signals.

The CCBR was established at IIT Madras to focus on the two emerging fields of neuroscience and brain research. It was set up with generous contribution from IIT Madras Distinguished Alumnus Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman, Axilor Ventures, and Co-Founder, Infosys.

Addressing the Inaugural Session today (2nd January 2020), Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “We are hoping to see a large amount of global collaboration in this centre, which is already working with researchers across the world. This is the fifth edition of the annual workshop with students benefitting tremendously as they gain exposure to the latest advances in Computational Brain Research and the intersection between biotechnology, machine learning and brain research.”

Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi added, “I envy all of you as you have a chance to learn about something that is new and still evolving in an exciting field. I want to thank Mr. Kris Gopalarishnan for endowing the three Chairs at this Centre. It was through his endowment that we kick-started this effort. We have a diverse set of distinguished professors working in this Centre. ”

The Center activities are spearheaded by three internationally renowned scientists who are the CCBR Chair Professors – Prof Partha Mitra from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA, Prof Mriganka Sur from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA and Prof Anand Raghunathan from Purdue University, USA – in collaboration with the faculty, and researchers of IIT Madras.

Highlighting the importance of the work underway at CCBR, Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman, Axilor Ventures, and Co-Founder, Infosys, said, “We have chosen to taken up Brain Research at CCBR because it is one of the fast growing fields and one of the few remaining unknowns in Science. The Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning wave will increase processing power, increase storage capacity on the cloud, increase availability of data and impact every industry and aspect of life.”

Further, Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan said, “There are many global benefits to Research projects undertaken at CCBR. From an Indian perspective, we get better integration of Indian researchers with the global research ecosystem. We can show to the world that India can undertake cutting-edge research in scale. And, India gets access to people from the best labs in the world.”

The center’s activities focus on three distinct areas: The circuitry of the brain, the functions of the brain and brain inspired computing. Some of the goals that the center is working towards include understanding the basic principles of organization of the brain across species, understanding the fundamental functions of brain networks

Delivering the ‘H.N. Mahabala Chair Professorial Lecture,’ Prof. Partha Mitra, Crick, Clay Professor of Biomathematics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and H.N. Mahabala Chair Professor, CCBR, IIT Madras, said, “Engineering + Brain Research is what is going to make the 21st Century Technology and that is what this The MIBR (Machine Intelligence and Brain Research) Course is all about. The course has modules on Vision, Audition/speech, language and reinforcement learning. ”

Further, Prof. Partha Mitra said, “Modern Machine Learning is training-data hungry, requires orders of magnitude, more training data than biological brains. Biological brains have species-specific, adaptively evolved prior structure, encoded in the species genome and reflected in the mesoscale brain connectivity.”

Prof. Trenton Jerde, Senior Editor, Nature Machine Intelligence, is scheduled to deliver a lecture via Video Conference on ‘Perspectives on machine intelligence, and the review process at Nature journals,’ which will be of great benefit to researchers looking to publish papers in prestigious journals.

Delivering a lecture on ‘Brain wiring and brain disorders,’ Prof. Mriganka Sur, Newton Professor of Neuroscience and NR Narayana Murthy Chair, IIT Madras, said, “Brain disorders and diseases occur across the lifespan. They often have lifelong disease burden and are expected to overtake heart disease and cancer as the most debilitating of diseases. There is a major need for mechanism-based biological understanding and treatments. This will require new approaches, tools, and collaborations across different fields.”