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Proposers Day Announcement for Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICRONS) program IARPA-BAA-14-06

Solicitation Number: IARPA-BAA-14-06
Agency: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Office: Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
Location: IARPA1
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Special Notice
Added: Jun 17, 2014 5:21 pm

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) will host a Proposers' Day conference for the Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) program on Thursday, July 17, 2014 in anticipation of the release of a new solicitation in support of the program. The conference will be held from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST in the College Park, Maryland metropolitan area. The conference will provide information on the MICrONS program, address questions from potential proposers, and provide a forum for potential proposers to present their capabilities for teaming opportunities.

This announcement serves as a pre-solicitation notice and is issued solely for informational and planning purposes. The Proposers' Day conference does not constitute a formal solicitation for proposals or proposal abstracts. Conference attendance is voluntary and is not required to propose to future solicitations (if any) associated with this program.
Program Description and Goals

For many information processing tasks, the brain employs algorithms composed of multiple instances of a limited set of computing "primitives" arrayed in a multi-stage processing architecture. Neurons in these primitives operate in parallel and communicate with their neighbors above, below, and laterally within the network to make sense of the complex environments in which we live. Today's state of the art algorithms for machine learning take a similar form, but deviate significantly in the details of implementation. Presumably, a significant part of the performance gap separating artificial and biological computing today is due to these deviations. The MICrONS program is predicated on the notion that it will be possible to revolutionize machine intelligence if we can construct algorithms that utilize the same data representations, transformations, and learning rules as those employed and implemented by the cortical computing primitives.

Although a significant body of neuroscience data has been collected over the past 100+ years, the majority of what is known about the brain is about its microscale (one or a few neurons) or macroscale (hundreds of thousands or millions of neurons) operation. Much less is known about the detailed structure and function of the mesoscale cortical microcircuits (hundreds to tens of thousands of neurons) that embody the cortical computing primitives, because until recently there have been few tools available to interrogate the brain at the requisite resolution (nanometers) and scale (millimeters). MICrONS seeks to use emerging technologies in high-resolution and high-throughput brain mapping-such as serial electron microscopy and volumetric calcium imaging-to address this gap in our understanding of cortical computation and to exploit the findings to enhance machine intelligence.

The overall and specific goal of the MICrONS program is to create a new generation of machine learning algorithms derived from high-fidelity representations of cortical microcircuits to achieve human-like performance on complex information processing tasks. To achieve this goal, multidisciplinary teams will:
• Propose an algorithmic framework for information processing that is consistent with existing neuroscience data, but that cannot be fully realized without additional specific knowledge about the data representations, computations, and network architectures employed by the brain;
• Collect and analyze high-resolution data on the structure and function of cortical microcircuits believed to embody the cortical computing primitives underlying key components of the proposed framework;
• Generate computational neural models of cortical microcircuits informed and constrained by this data and by the existing neuroscience literature to elucidate the nature of the cortical computing primitives; and
• Implement novel machine learning algorithms that use mathematical abstractions of the identified cortical computing primitives as their basis of operation.

It is anticipated that algorithms created under MICrONS will be validated through their performance on complex auditory or visual scene parsing tasks, and will also demonstrate capacity for generalization to abstract, non-sensory data.

Registration Information

Attendees must register no later than 5:00 PM EST on Thursday, July 10, 2014 at the following website: Registrations will be approved in the order in which they are received. If there are more registrants than available seats, priority will be given to the first two registrants from each organization. No walk-in registrations will be allowed. Directions to the conference facility and other materials are available on the website. All attendees will be required to present a government-issued photo identification to enter the conference. Foreign nationals will need to present a passport.

Additional Information

The afternoon will include presentation and poster sessions to provide an opportunity for attendees to present their organizations' capabilities and to explore teaming arrangements. Details on the presentation and poster formats, and the procedure for submitting a request to present, will be available on the website. All contributions must include an abstract.

Due to time and space constraints, there will be a limit of 20 presentations and 20 posters at the conference, five of each within the four technical areas summarized in bullets above. Contributors will be asked to indicate which technical area best describes the content of their submission. Within each technical area, presentations and posters will be reviewed and approved in the order in which they are received. Abstracts of all approved contributions, including contributions received after the first twenty posters and presentations, will be included in an abstract book that is distributed at the meeting and online. It is the presenter's responsibility to ensure that all materials submitted are appropriately marked and approved for distribution by their organization. Note that no Government personnel will be present during the presentation and poster sessions - the purpose of these sessions is to facilitate teaming, not to solicit feedback from the Government.

This Proposers' Day is intended for participants who are eligible to compete on the anticipated BAA. Other Government Agencies, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs), or any other similar organizations that have a special relationship with the Government, that gives them access to privileged or proprietary information, or access to Government equipment or real property, will not be eligible to submit proposals to the anticipated BAA nor participate as team members under proposals submitted by eligible entities. While such entities are not prohibited from attending the Proposers' Day, due to space limitations, preference will be given first to those organizations that are eligible to compete.

IARPA will not provide reimbursement for costs incurred to participate in this conference or otherwise pay for additional information prepared for this event.

Questions concerning conference & registration can be sent to

Contracting Office Address:
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
Washington, District of Columbia 20511
United States

Primary Point of Contact:
R. Jacob Vogelstein, Program Manager

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Proposers Day Announcement

Other (Draft RFPs/RFIs, Responses to Questions, etc..)
Proposers Day Announcement
Posted Date:
June 17, 2014
Description: Proposers Day Announcement - Microns
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
Washington, District of Columbia 20511
United States
R. Jacob Vogelstein