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Create and run detailed neural simulations
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The Nengo neural simulator

Nengo is a software package for simulating large-scale neural systems.


Eclipse setup

Brief setup instructions

The important details of the Eclipse setup are as follows. See the next section for detailed setup instructions.

  1. Add the projects to Eclipse using "File->New->Java project...", and creating the project from the source directory. Add "simulator" first, and then "simulator-ui".
  2. To run the program, add a new run configuration ("Run->Run configurations"). The configuration should be a "Java Application", the project "simulator-ui", and the main class "ca.nengo.ui.NengoLauncher".

Detailed setup instructions

The following instructions should get you up and running the GUI from within Eclipse. These instructions are valid for Eclipse version 3.7.2 (and hopefully other versions too!)

#) If you are in linux or OSX, open a terminal and check out the nengo source into the current working directory.

git clone
  1. Now start the eclipse IDE in the nengo root directory:

    cd nengo eclipse

#) If this is the first time you are running Eclipse, then it will ask you to "Select a workspace". Eclipse stores projects in a workspace, and uses the workspace to store temporary files. Choose a workspace path with "nengo" in it somewhere to remind you what it is for, but don't make it a subdirectory of the source you just checked out using git. A good choice would be ~/.eclipse_workspaces/nengo

#) Eclipse will finish loading up at this point and load a welcome screen, which you can feel free to close.

#) At this point you're looking at an empty project view: there are menus and a toolbar across the top of the window, and four panes in the main part of the window. One of the panes (for me it's the top left) is labeled "Project Explorer". We are going to add two projects to it: "simulator" and "simulator-ui".

#) Add the "simulator" project by right clicking within the "Project Explorer" window and selecting "import". Expand the "General" tree and choose "Existing Projects into Workspace". Where it gives the option to "Select root directory" use the search button to browse to the "simulator" subdirectory of the nengo project you checked out using git. Alternately, you can just type that path into the text box. Press finish.

#) Add the "simulator-ui" project by repeating these steps but select the "simulator-ui" subdirectory this time, when it asks you to "Select root directory".

#) Back in the "Project Explorer" pane, right-click your new "simulator-ui" project and select "Run as -> Java Application" from the drop-down menu. You'll be presented with a huge list of options, but type "Nengo" into the search bar at the top, and that should narrow the selection down to just one: NengoLauncher. Click it, and you should be looking at the Nengo GUI running from within Eclipse. You're done!

Increasing Java heap size

If you receive errors about running out of memory while running Nengo, you can increase the heap size that Eclipse allocates for the program. Simply add the command "-Xmx4g" to the "Arguments->VM arguments" box in the run configurations dialog. (The "4g" specifies 4 gigabytes of memory. You can replace this with any integer and either "m" for megabytes or "g" for gigabytes, e.g., "512m" or "2g". The default is "384m".)

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