Installing the BMTK

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The BMTK was developed for use for Python 2.7+ and Python 3.6+. Previous releases can be downloaded from here. The latest code including the newest features and bug fixes can be found on the develop branch of our GitHub repo.

The base installation, which will let you build networks, parse and analyze simulation reports, requires the following dependencies:

All components of the BMTK will work on a single machine, but some parts can take advantage of parallelism against HPC clusters, and requires the following to be installed:

For running network simulations BMTK uses existing software which varies depending on the type of simulation you want to run. Individual instructions are done for the various requirements of the different simulation engines.

Installing the latest from the source

$ git clone
$ cd bmtk
$ python install

Installing with pip

$ pip install bmtk

Installing with conda

$ conda install -c kaeldai bmtk

Using the Docker Image

The BMTK docker container lets you build and simulate networks without requiring installing all the BMTK prerequisites on your computer. All you need is the docker client installed on your machine.

$ docker pull alleninstitute/bmtk

There are two main ways of using the bmtk-docker image, either as a command-line application or as a Jupyter Notebook server

Through the command line

Go to the directory where your BMTK network-builder and/or network-simulation scripts and supporting files are located (local/path) and run the following in a command-line terminal

$ docker run alleninstitute/bmtk -v local/path:/home/shared/workspace python <my_script>.py <opts>

Due to the way docker works, all files to build/run the network must be within local/path, including network files, simulator components, output directories, etc. If your config.json files references anything outside the working directory branch things will not work as expected.

NEURON mechanisms: If you are running BioNet and have special mechanisms/mod files that need to be compiled, you can do so by running

$ cd /path/to/mechanims
$ docker run -v $(pwd):/home/shared/workspace/mechanisms alleninstitute/bmtk nrnivmodl modfiles/

Through Jupyter Notebooks

The bmtk-docker image can be run as a jupyter notebook server. Not only will it contain examples and notebook tutorials for you to run, but you can use it to create new bmtk notebooks. In a command-line run

$ docker run -v $(pwd):/home/shared/workspace -p 8888:8888 alleninstitute/bmtk jupyter

Then open a browser to Any new files/notebooks should be saved to workspace directory, otherwise they will be lost once the container is closed.

Through Neuroscience Gateway (NSG)

The bmtk can be run through the Neuroscience Gateway for anyone who has an account.

For running multi-core BioNet (NEURON-based) simulations on the NSG please refer to Readme file.

Running Simulations

Biophysically detailed simulations

Running simulations of biophysically detailed, multi-compartmental neuronal models are done with BioNet which uses the NEURON simulator, version 7.4 and above. Precompiled version of NEURON can be downloaded and installed from here. Make sure to install the Python bindings.

The precompiled installed version of NEURON may have issues if you are using an Anaconda or Python virtual environment. Similarly, it will not compile with MPI support so you can’t parallelize the simulation. You can find instructions for compiling NEURON for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

  • NOTE - BioNet does not use the NEURON GUI (iv package) and we recommend you compile with the –without-iv option

Point-Neuron simulations

The PointNet simulation engine is responsible for running point-neuron networks using the NEST simulator, version 2.11 and above. Instructions for installing NEST can be found here.

Filter Models

FilterNet is the simulation engine responsible for simulating firing rate responses to stimuli onto the visual fields. It uses a piece of simulation software called LGNModel developed at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Luckily, LGNModel is already built into the BMTK and no extra installation instructions are required.

Population-Level Models

PopNet will simulate population-level firing rate dynamics using DiPDE. Instructions for installing DiPDE can be found here. However, we recommend installing DiPDE using anaconda:

$ conda install -c nicholasc dipde