Scheduling and custom progress reporting


Every simulated object in Brian has three attributes that can be specified at object creation time: dt, when, and order. The time step of the simulation is determined by dt, if it is specified, a new Clock with the given dt will be created for the object. Alternatively, a clock object can be specified directly, this can be useful if a clock should be shared between several objects – under most circumstances, however, a user should not have to deal with the creation of Clock objects and just define dt. If neither a dt nor a clock argument is specified, the object will use the defaultclock. Setting defaultclock.dt will therefore change the dt of all objects that use the defaultclock.

Note that directly changing the dt attribute of an object is not allowed, neither it is possible to assign to dt in abstract code statements. To change dt between runs, change the dt attribute of the respective Clock object (which is also accessible as the clock attribute of each BrianObject). The when and the order attributes can be changed by setting the respective attributes of a BrianObject.

During a single time step, objects are updated according to their when argument’s position in the schedule. This schedule is determined by Network.schedule which is a list of strings, determining “execution slots” and their order. It defaults to: ['start', 'groups', 'thresholds', 'synapses', 'resets', 'end']. In addition to the names provided in the schedule, names such as before_thresholds or after_synapses can be used that are understood as slots in the respective positions. The default for the when attribute is a sensible value for most objects (resets will happen in the reset slot, etc.) but sometimes it make sense to change it, e.g. if one would like a StateMonitor, which by default records in the end slot, to record the membrane potential before a reset is applied (otherwise no threshold crossings will be observed in the membrane potential traces). Note that you can also add new slots to the schedule and refer to them in the when argument of an object.

Finally, if during a time step two objects fall in the same execution slot, they will be updated in ascending order according to their order attribute, an integer number defaulting to 0. If two objects have the same when and order attribute then they will be updated in an arbitrary but reproducible order (based on the lexicographical order of their names).

Note that objects that don’t do any computation by themselves but only act as a container for other objects (e.g. a NeuronGroup which contains a StateUpdater, a Resetter and a Thresholder), don’t have any value for when, but pass on the given values for dt and order to their containing objects.

Every new Network starts a simulation at time 0; Network.t is a read-only attribute, to go back to a previous moment in time (e.g. to do another trial of a simulation with a new noise instantiation) use the mechanism described below.

Note that while it is allowed to change the dt of an object between runs (e.g. to simulate/monitor an initial phase with a bigger time step than a later phase), this change has to be compatible with the internal representation of clocks as an integer value (the number of elapsed time steps). For example, you can simulate an object for 100ms with a time step of 0.1ms (i.e. for 1000 steps) and then switch to a dt of 0.5ms, the time will then be internally represented as 200 steps. You cannot, however, switch to a dt of 0.3ms, because 100ms are not an integer multiple of 0.3ms.

Progress reporting

For custom progress reporting (e.g. graphical output, writing to a file, etc.), the report keyword accepts a callable (i.e. a function or an object with a __call__ method) that will be called with four parameters:

  • elapsed: the total (real) time since the start of the run
  • completed: the fraction of the total simulation that is completed, i.e. a value between 0 and 1
  • start: The start of the simulation (in biological time)
  • duration: the total duration (in biological time) of the simulation

The function will be called every report_period during the simulation, but also at the beginning and end with completed equal to 0.0 and 1.0, respectively.

For the C++ standalone mode, the same standard options are available. It is also possible to implement custom progress reporting by directly passing the code (as a multi-line string) to the report argument. This code will be filled into a progress report function template, it should therefore only contain a function body. The simplest use of this might look like:, report='std::cout << (int)(completed*100.) << "% completed" << std::endl;')

Examples of custom reporting

Progress printed to a file

from import TextReport
report_file = open('report.txt', 'w')
file_reporter = TextReport(report_file), report=file_reporter)

“Graphical” output on the console

This needs a “normal” Linux console, i.e. it might not work in an integrated console in an IDE.

Adapted from

import sys

class ProgressBar(object):
    def __init__(self, toolbar_width):
        self.toolbar_width = toolbar_width
        self.ticks = 0

    def __call__(self, elapsed, complete, start, duration):
        if complete == 0.0:
            # setup toolbar
            sys.stdout.write("[%s]" % (" " * self.toolbar_width))
            sys.stdout.write("\b" * (self.toolbar_width + 1)) # return to start of line, after '['
            ticks_needed = int(round(complete * 40))
            if self.ticks < ticks_needed:
                sys.stdout.write("-" * (ticks_needed-self.ticks))
                self.ticks = ticks_needed
        if complete == 1.0:
            sys.stdout.write("\n"), report=progress_bar, report_period=1*second)