Fruit Fly Brain Hackathon 2017

FFBH 2017

March 12, 2017


Center for Neural Engineering and Computation

Columbia University, New York, NY 10027


We are pleased to announce the 2nd Fruit Fly Brain Hackathon (FFBO 2017). This hackathon will feature the Fruit Fly Brain Observatory (FFBO) and its key components NeuroNLP and NeuroGFX. The former allows for exploring fruit fly brain data using plain English queries, and the latter facilitates the modeling and execution of such brain circuits. Brief tutorials will be given on the usage of the FFBO as well as developing new tools/features in FFBO. The hackathon is aimed at three main groups of participants: neurobiologists, modelers and software engineers. The goal of the hackathon is to bring together these three groups of participants to develop, use and improve the FFBO platform towards developing executable models of the fruit fly brain.

The Fruit Fly Brain Hackathon 2017 is organized in conjunction with the Columbia Workshop on Brain Circuit, Memory and Computation on March 13-14, 2017. Participants of the hackathon are welcome to attend the workshop.


Paul Richmond, Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield
Adam Tomkins, Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, University of Sheffield
Nikul Ukani, Department of Electrical Engineering, Columbia University
Chung-Heng Yeh, Department of Electrical Engineering, Columbia University
Yiyin Zhou, Department of Electrical Engineering, Columbia University


Registration is free but all participants have to register. To help us better organize the event, please provide in the appropriate registration block a brief description of your background and what you would like to learn/achieve during the hackathon. Thank you!

Lodging and Directions to Venue

Please follow this link for lodging details and directions to the hotel and venue.


Sunday, March 12th, 2017

09:00 AM - 09:15 AM: Introduction to the Fruit Fly Brain Hackathon (Yiyin Zhou, Columbia University, USA).

09:15 AM - 09:30 AM: Self-introductions by Participants.

09:30 AM - 09:40 AM: Introduction to NeuroNLP (Nikul H. Ukani, Columbia University, USA).

09:40 AM - 09:50 AM: Introduction to NeuroGFX (Chung-Heng Yeh, Columbia University, USA).

09:50 AM - 10:00 AM: Introduction to FFBO Architecture (Adam Tomkins, the University of Sheffield, UK).

10:00 AM - 10:15 AM: Virtual Fly Brain (Robert Court, University of Edinburgh, UK, and David Osumi-Sutherland, EMBL-EBI, UK).

10:15 AM - 10:30 AM: Geppetto (Matteo Cantarelli, MetaCell, OpenWorm Foundation).

10:40 AM - 12:00 PM: Discussions and Summary of Project Ideas.

12:00 PM - 06:00 PM: Hacking.

Computing Resources

Participants only need to bring a laptop to the hackathon to fully explore the capacity of the FFBO. For attendees interested in installing FFBO on their own machines, or developing new features, all service packages will be available in the form of Docker images. We will also provide a number of accounts to access servers hosted on Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure cloud services.

Hackathon Information

The source codes for fruit fly brain observatory is available at:

For an introduction/tutorial to the FFBO, please see the following collection of hackpads: