Abe, T., Kinsella, I., Saxena, S., Buchanan, E. K., Couto, J., Briggs, J., Kitt, S. L., Glassman, R., Zhou, J., Paninski, L., Cunningham, J. P.

Jun 3, 2021
Journal PDF Preprint
A major goal of computational neuroscience is the development of powerful data analyses that operate on large datasets. These analyses form an essential toolset to derive scientific insights from new experiments. Unfortunately, a major obstacle currently impedes progress: novel data analyses have a hidden dependence upon complex computing infrastructure (e.g. software dependencies, hardware), acting as an unaddressed deterrent to potential analysis users. While existing analyses are increasingly shared as open source software, the infrastructure needed to deploy these analyses - at scale, reproducibly, cheaply, and quickly - remains totally inaccessible to all but a minority of expert users. In this work we develop Neuroscience Cloud Analysis As a Service (NO_SCPLOWEUROC_SCPLOWCAAS): a fully automated analysis platform that makes state-of-the-art data analysis tools accessible to the neuroscience community. Based on modern large-scale computing advances, NO_SCPLOWEUROC_SCPLOWCAAS is an open source platform with a drag-and-drop interface, entirely removing the burden of infrastructure purchase, configuration, deployment, and maintenance from analysis users and developers alike. NO_SCPLOWEUROC_SCPLOWCAAS offers two major scientific benefits to any data analysis. First, NO_SCPLOWEUROC_SCPLOWCAAS provides automatic reproducibility of analyses at no extra effort to the analysis developer or user. Second, NO_SCPLOWEUROC_SCPLOWCAAS cleanly separates tool implementation from usage, allowing for immediate use of arbitrarily complex analyses, at scale. We show how these benefits drive the design of simpler, more powerful data analyses. Furthermore, we show that many popular data analysis tools offered through NO_SCPLOWEUROC_SCPLOWCAAS outperform typical analysis solutions (in terms of speed and cost) while improving ease of use, dispelling the myth that cloud compute is prohibitively expensive and technically inaccessible. By removing barriers to fast, efficient cloud computation, NO_SCPLOWEUROC_SCPLOWCAAS can dramatically accelerate both the dissemination and the effective use of cutting-edge analysis tools for neuroscientific discovery.
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