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ES: 'Open source science allows others to get involved'

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Researchers at the Spanish University of Granada are publishing as open source their software simulating the human nervous system, saying this is the only way to allow other teams to become involved.

The department of Architecture and Computer Technology last May published Edlut (Event driven look up table based simulator) that can be used to mimic parts of the human brain. Apart from studying how the brain works, tt is meant to aid research into diseases and to test new medicines. The software can also be used to improve robots and other machines, such as accurate control and tool manipulators.

The software was published using the GPLv3 General Public open source Licence. According to professor Eduardo Ros Vidal, making the software available as open source is the only way to make such a project a success. "Other teams must get involved in the development, using it for their projects and experiments. It takes an international research community to develop a high complexity tool. A single group cannot address the many topics involved."

The open source licence allows scientists to make all kinds of changes to the code, he says, in order to fit the software to their model, or to carry out very specific experiments. "Brain simulation is one of the major challenges of current century, and there is a long way to go."

Professor Ros Vidal says that after consulting the University's Open Source Office, the team settled on the GPLv3 licence without much debate. "We are computational neuroscience researchers, with little experience in open source. The GPLv3 seemed general enough."

Edlut, part of the EU's robotics research project Sensopac, is used by at least three other European teams of scientists, the University Pierre Marie Curie in Paris in France, the University of Pavia in Italy and the University of Lund in Sweden. "Server logs show Edlut in the past three months has been downloaded by several hundreds of potential users from around the world."

More information:

Edlut project website

University of Granada statement

Sensopac framework project