Computational Vision Course 2014 @ CSHL

Yesterday marked the start of the 2014 summer course in COMPUTATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE: VISION at Cold Spring Harbor. The course was founded in 1985 by Tony Movshon and Ellen Hildreth, with the goal of inspiring new generations of students to address problems at the intersection of vision, computation, and the brain. The list of past attendees is impressive.

For the next two weeks, students will have two 3-hour lectures per day from a smattering of leading experimental and theoretical neuroscientists (full list here), punctuated with breaks for conversation and recreation (swimming, soccer, frisbee, tennis, ping pong, squirt gun battles, to name a few) on the lush grounds of the Banbury Center at CSHL. Evenings will be devoted to informal discussions, tutorials, and to course projects inspired by lectures and/or interactions with students, TAs, and lecturers.

The course is a ridiculous amount of fun, despite the number of equations. I first attended as a second-year grad student in the summer of 2000 (part of a cohort that included Alex Huk, Anne Churchland, Hannah Bayer, Stephen David, Odelia Schwartz, and Richard Murray), and I returned in 2002 as TA alongside Anne Churchland. It’s an honor to be back this year as a co-organizer (with Geoff Boynton, Greg Horwitz, and Stefan Treue), and I’m joined by Jake Yates and two other students from UT.

Tony Movshon kicked things off yesterday with characteristic Tony levels of charm and wit. Here’s a short sampling of quotes:

  • “Matlab is an abomination. But I want you to learn as much as possible so that when you come to my lab, you will know how to get whatever it is you need to get done, done.”
  • “Only a theorist could use the terms ‘actual’ and ‘simulated’ simultaneously when referring to data.”
  • “The brain works the way it does because it’s made of meat, and meat is not deterministic.”
  • “Did I mention how dumb the motor system is?”
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