# [pdp-discuss] PDP++ Proposal

Randall C. O'Reilly oreilly at psych.colorado.edu
Thu May 5 01:40:35 MDT 2005

PDP++ Users,

Here are our preliminary specific aims for the grant proposal to support the
renovation of the software, and a more detailed description can be downloaded

you think would make an important improvement in the usability of the
software.

The grant proposal is due by May 15, but we would like to have it ready to go
by early next week, so please send comments asap, and definitely on or before
Monday May 9th.  Also, if you haven't yet sent me your publication and/or
teaching information (see email below), please do so asap, and again by that

- Randy

The specific aims are to:

\item Update the software in a number of critical ways:

\item Replace the existing obsolete graphical framework library
(Interviews) with a modern well-supported toolkit (Qt) (this will
also provide a more native'' interface on Windows and MacOS).

\item Enhance usability for both novices and experts through a
fundamental interface redesign, including a tabbed-browser
framework, integrated 3D visualization workspace, automatic
toolbars and specialized configuration dialogs, better integrated
help functions, and more wizards to help create and expand
simulations.

\item Develop expanded and more usable facilities for specifying
environments'' of input and output stimuli to the networks,
including new media types (e.g., images, video, sound), and an
E-Prime software for designing behavioral experiments.  This will
also result in more surface-valid ways of visualizing and
understanding the model's behaviors.

\item Develop enhanced visualization and analysis tools, including
simplified mechanisms for viewing network state over time, and
more flexible ways of tabulating and aggregating performance
data.

\item Develop enhancements to help research models be more
accessible to other users, including built-in tools for
documenting models and constructing automated demos, a new and
more convenient plugin library'' method of extending the
software, a facility for directly saving and retrieving models
from online model databases (including the support for XML
file formats), and tighter integration with other modeling and
data analysis tools such as MATLAB/Octave, R, SPSS, SAS, etc.

facilities for more efficiently representing larger-scale neural
structures (e.g., cortical hypercolumns, brain areas).

\item Make other technical improvements, including support for
larger models, 64-bit operating systems, and making the software
easier to install and compile.

\item Improve the documentation and user education.  We will rewrite
the user manual to reflect the above changes, and integrate this
manual as on-line help in the application itself.  The changes made
to the software, and its documentation, will also facilitate writing
the second edition of a widely adopted textbook based on PDP++
\cite{OReillyMunakata00}.  This textbook includes over 40 different
models covering a wide range of cognitive neuroscience phenomena,
and the PDP++ simulations play a critical role in its educational
value by enabling hands-on exploratory learning.

\item Provide ongoing user support.  Maintenance and support of
software is an integral aspect of its existence.  The senior
programmer will also fix bugs in existing releases, and help users
with issues they may encounter.  We will also hire a more junior
programmer/user support person, who will provide more extensive user
support, documentation, etc.  The team will maintain a web portal
(e.g., a wiki) and the existing email list, to provide interactive
support.

On Thursday 31 March 2005 09:15 pm, Randall C. O'Reilly wrote:
> We are planning to write a grant proposal to support major enhancements to
> the PDP++ neural network simulation software, and need to collect some data
> on publications, teaching, and other usage of this software.
>
> If you have used PDP++ for simulations published in any form, please email
> me the reference(s) to these publications (APA format preferred, but any
> format will do).
>
> If you have used PDP++ for teaching, please send the name of the course,
> years taught, number of students, etc. (any information would be
> appreciated, the more the better).
>
> If you have used PDP++ for other purposes (e.g., business, forecasting,
> etc) please send any relevant information.
>
> Finally, if you have any feedback on the software for things that we should
> improve in the future, we would like to hear it. We have already begun the
> revisions and have a fairly detailed plan, which we will be announcing
> within a few weeks on the pdp-discuss email list, so your feedback would be
> most beneficial if it could be given in the context of these plans, but if
> you would rather just send feedback now, that would also be appreciated.
>
> Thanks!
>
> - Randy