Fruit Fly Brain Hackathon 2018

FFBH 2018
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Center for Neural Engineering and Computation
Columbia University, New York, NY, USA


We are pleased to announce the 3rd Fruit Fly Brain Hackathon (FFBH 2018). This hackathon will be focused on open neurophysiology data (electrophysiology, imaging, etc.) of, but not limited to, the fruit fly brain.

The hackathon will be focused on the following topics:

  1. Promoting Neurodata Without Borders (NWB) as a standard format for storing and sharing neurophysiology data in general, and extend it to standardize the storage and distribution of fruit fly brain electrophysiology and calcium imaging data,
  2. Queryable neurophysiology data: organizing neurophysiology data and metadata in a database to make them easily queryable, and developing comprehensive querying tools accordingly,
  3. Incorporating queried neurophysiology data into computational study.

The goals are to:

  1. create a common language for sharing open neurophysiology data,
  2. speed up pattern search in the data that can often be tedious and inefficient to do manually,
  3. drive the creation of computational models and the validation of them using open data.

The hackathon is aimed at three main groups of participants: neurobiologists, modelers and software engineers. We welcome researchers working on the fruit fly brain as well as those working on other model organisms to participate and broaden the discussion in the hackathon.

The Fruit Fly Brain Hackathon 2018 is organized in conjunction with the Columbia Workshop on Brain Circuit, Memory and Computation on March 15-16, 2018. Participants of the hackathon are welcome to attend the workshop.


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.


The presentations will be streamed on Zoom under the Meeting ID 751-390-823.

09:00 AM - 09:15 AM Opening and Welcome

09:15 AM - 10:15 AM Introduction to Fruit Fly Brain Observatory and Hands-on (Nikul Ukani, Chung-Heng Yeh and Yiyin Zhou, Columbia University)

10:15 AM - 11:05 AM Introduction to NWB and Hands-on (Oliver RĂ¼bel, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

11:05 AM - 11:25 AM Presentation by Peter Peterson (New York University)

11:30 AM - 06:00 PM Discussion and 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 or Google cloud services.

To access the Jupyter Lab for hands-on sessions, use the following address:

Since it is a self-assigned certificate, please ignore the safety warning and proceed to the website.

The password to login is "ffbh2018". After login, please copy the folder called NeuroData Without Boarder into a new directory and work within the new folder. A Jupyter notebook has been created to guide you through the hands-on session.

Hackathon Information

The source code for the Fruit Fly Brain Observatory is available at:

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

More information about FFBH 2018 can be found here.


FFBH 2017

FFBH 2016