The Pattern Recognition Lab: SNS & Future in Review announce the UCSD Pattern Recognition Laboratory based on brain-inspired processors and housed in Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute

By Berit Anderson

“Mark and I have been waiting for this moment for many many months,” announced Larry Smarr, the Founding Director of Calit2 at Future in Review Wednesday morning.

He was referring to FiRe Chair and SNS CEO Mark Anderson, who took to the stage with Smarr to announce the creation of the UCSD Pattern Recognition FiRe Lab. The lab will develop machine learning that can identify patterns using IBM’s TrueNorth chip. (TrueNorth inventor Darmendra Modha is also a speaker at FiRe 2015.) Then it will put that technology to work analyzing big data to identify patterns and learn about the world — from genomics to the study of the microbiome to physics and engineering.

IBM & DARPA are contributing TrueNorth. The Cal system, the University of Tokyo, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Lawrence Livermore Lab & Stanford will act as research partners in the lab.

“Somehow biologically evolved computers have found a way to be a million times more energy efficient,” Smarr said. “We must be able to find a way to reverse engineer the brain to do that.”

“The pattern recognition processor is almost like a camera — it’s interfacing with the world in a very blunt way,” Mark explained.

Anderson first wrote about pattern computing in February of 2013. A year later Science published an article about Modha’s work on TrueNorth.

Ken Kreutz-Delgado, Professor of Intelligent Systems, Signal Processing, and Robotics at UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, will direct the lab. He described the TrueNorth chip and pattern recognition lab Wednesday as “an opportunity for people who really want to understand patterns of real world data”.

Smarr said he also sees the lab as a way to attract world-class talent working on big data from around the world. “Could we find people around the world, the big minds working on big data applications, that we could quickly bring in,” he wondered.

One of those talents is Akihiro Nakao, a Professor of Applied Computer Science at the University of Tokyo. Nakao’s team developed FLARE, an open programmable deeply node architecture that he described Wednesday as “trying to define the new generation Internet.”