Archive for the ‘programming’ Category

How to find NIRS experts using “Find Experts” app

January 12th, 2018

If you are a newcomer in the NIRS field, you may wonder who are the experts in this field. You might know a few already - for example your boss. But who else are there and where they are?

We developed “Find Experts” app to quickly find experts based on scientific publications in any biomedical field. Let’s see who are experts in the NIRS field.

Use "Find Experts" to find experts in NIRS field

Website: Find Experts of Stork

Author: Xu Cui Categories: programming, stork Tags:

xjview 9.6 released

October 12th, 2017

In this version, we modified the templates for 3-D render view and use a high-resolution template. It also includes a few scalp view. You may pick up your favorite display for your paper (or presentation). Please go to the download page to download.

xjview 9.6 Render View xjview 9.6 Render View

The render view for the previous version is shown below to compare.

xjview 9 Render View xjview 9 Render View

This update is brought to you by Dr. Weiwei Men (email: wmen AT from Center for Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research, Peking University, China. Weiwei has been using xjView for 10 years. He noticed that the image resolution of the render view in xjView 9 is low, and took the effort to create a new view using a high resolution template (ICBM152_asys_2009C). Thank him for his excellent work!
Weiwei Men

Author: Xu Cui Categories: matlab, programming Tags:


July 26th, 2017

美国国立卫生研究院每年要拨款300亿美元用于生物和医学的研究。这些经费大约要资助6万个课题。如果能访问到这些数据,并且实时翻译成中文,那将是医生、教授、学生和其他科研人员宝贵的资源库。 为此,我们开发了这款美国国立卫生研究院经费数据库(中英版)。这个数据库可以使我们:

  1. 方便地了解美国生物医学最新科研动态
  2. 为自己的研究和基金申请带来灵感
  3. 在美国找到合作伙伴、合作机会
  4. 在美国找到学习、进修机会
  5. 该数据库每月更新,Stork也会把新的相关的课题用电子邮件通知我们





NIH经费数据库(中英版)是Stork的付费高级功能。 要使用,首先要免费注册Stork账户。 请按照这个说明流程注册。 注册后就可以看到高级功能说明。 单击NIH Grant图标就可以看到付费流程。



Author: Xu Cui Categories: programming, stork Tags:

Hyperscanning experiment file (matlab)

June 8th, 2017

Below is the experiment script (in MatLab) for our hyperscanning project (”NIRS-based hyperscanning reveals increased interpersonal coherence in superior frontal cortex during cooperation.”). For detailed information please refer to

Psychtoolbox-3 is required.


Author: Xu Cui Categories: brain, matlab, nirs, programming, psychToolbox Tags:

Learning deep learning (project 4, language translation)

April 28th, 2017

In this project, I built a neural network for machine translation (English -> French).  I built and trained a sequence to sequence model on a dataset of English and French sentences that can translate new sentences from English to French. The model was trained on my own laptop with a Nvidia M1200 GPU. In the end, we reached ~95% accuracy. And here is an example of the translation:


English Words: ['he', 'saw', 'a', 'old', 'yellow', 'truck', '.']


French Words: ['il', 'a', 'vu', 'un', 'vieux', 'camion', 'jaune', '.', '<EOS>']

As I do not know French, I checked Google Translate and it looks like the translation is pretty good.

The full project with code can be found here:

Author: Xu Cui Categories: deep learning, programming Tags:

Deep learning speed test, my laptop vs AWS g2.2xlarge vs AWS g2.8xlarge vs AWS p2.xlarge vs Paperspace p5000

April 21st, 2017

It requires a lot of resources, especially GPU and GPU memory, to train a deep-learning model efficiently. Here I test the time it took to train a model in 3 computers/servers.

1. My own laptop.
CPU: Intel Core i7-7920HQ (Quad Core 3.10GHz, 4.10GHz Turbo, 8MB 45W, w/Intel HD Graphics 630
Memory: 64G
GPU: NVIDIA Quadro M1200 w/4GB GDDR5, 640 CUDA cores

2. AWS g2.2xlarge
CPU: 8 vCPU, High Frequency Intel Xeon E5-2670 (Sandy Bridge) Processors
Memory: 15G
GPU: 1 GPU, High-performance NVIDIA GPUs, each with 1,536 CUDA cores and 4GB of video memory

3. AWS g2.8xlarge
CPU: 32 vCPU, High Frequency Intel Xeon E5-2670 (Sandy Bridge) Processors
Memory: 60G
GPU: 4 GPU, High-performance NVIDIA GPUs, each with 1,536 CUDA cores and 4GB of video memory

The AMI. I used udacity-dl - ami-60f24d76 (The official AMI of Udacity’s Deep Learning Foundations) from the community AMIs.

Test script. Adopted from
Time spent is tracked

import time

from keras.preprocessing import sequence
from keras.models import Sequential
from keras.layers import Dense, Embedding
from keras.layers import LSTM
from keras.datasets import imdb

'''Trains a LSTM on the IMDB sentiment classification task.
The dataset is actually too small for LSTM to be of any advantage
compared to simpler, much faster methods such as TF-IDF + LogReg.
- RNNs are tricky. Choice of batch size is important,
choice of loss and optimizer is critical, etc.
Some configurations won't converge.
- LSTM loss decrease patterns during training can be quite different
from what you see with CNNs/MLPs/etc.
start_time = time.time()

max_features = 20000
maxlen = 80  # cut texts after this number of words (among top max_features most common words)
batch_size = 32

print('Loading data...')
(x_train, y_train), (x_test, y_test) = imdb.load_data(num_words=max_features)
print(len(x_train), 'train sequences')
print(len(x_test), 'test sequences')

print('Pad sequences (samples x time)')
x_train = sequence.pad_sequences(x_train, maxlen=maxlen)
x_test = sequence.pad_sequences(x_test, maxlen=maxlen)
print('x_train shape:', x_train.shape)
print('x_test shape:', x_test.shape)

print('Build model...')
model = Sequential()
model.add(Embedding(max_features, 128))
model.add(LSTM(128, dropout=0.2, recurrent_dropout=0.2))
model.add(Dense(1, activation='sigmoid'))

# try using different optimizers and different optimizer configs

print('Train...'), y_train,
          validation_data=(x_test, y_test))
score, acc = model.evaluate(x_test, y_test,
print('Test score:', score)
print('Test accuracy:', acc)
time_taken = time.time() - start_time

Result: The table below shows the number of seconds it took to run the above script at 3 sets of parameters (batch_size and LSTM size).

batch_size LSTM size Laptop g2.2xlarge g2.8xlarge
32 128 546 821 878
256 256 155 152 157
1024 256 125 107 110

The result is surprising and confusing to me. I was expecting g2 servers to be much much faster than my own laptop given the capacity of the GPU. But the result shows my laptop is actually faster in smaller parameter values, and only slightly worse in higher parameter values.

I do not know what is going on … Anybody has clue?

[update 2017-04-23]

I was thinking maybe the operating system or some configuration was optimal in AWS. The AMI I used was udacity-dl - ami-60f24d76 (The official AMI of Udacity’s Deep Learning Foundations) from the community AMIs. So I tried a different AMI, a commercial AMI from bitfusion: Maybe it will make a difference? I also tested a new instant type p2.xlarge which has 1 NVIDIA K80 GPU (24G GPU memory) and 60G memory.

batch_size LSTM size Laptop g2.2xlarge g2.8xlarge p2.xlarge
1024 256 125 151 148 101

The result is still disappointing. The AWS g2 instances perform worse than my laptop, and p2 instance only 20% better.

(Of course, GPU is still faster than CPU. On my own laptop, using GPU is ~10x faster than using CPU to run the above code)

[update 2017-04-02]

I checked out Paperspace’s p5000 computer. It comes with a dedicated p5000 GPU with 2048 cores and 16G GPU memory. I tested with the same code. I find the training is much faster on p5000 (ironically, the data downloading part is slow). The training part is 4x faster than my laptop.

batch_size LSTM size Laptop g2.2xlarge g2.8xlarge p2.xlarge paperspace p5000
1024 256 125 151 148 101 50

(Note, the above time includes the data downloading part, which is about 25 seconds).

Paperspace p5000 wins so far!

[update 2017-05-03]

I purchased Nvidia’s 1080 Ti and installed it on my desktop. It has 3,584 cores and 11G GPU memory. It look 7s for this GPU to train 1 epoch of the above script and it’s 3x times faster than my laptop.

batch_size LSTM size Laptop (1 epoch) 1080 Ti (1 epoch)
1024 256 21 7
Author: Xu Cui Categories: deep learning, programming Tags:

We contributed to MatLab (wavelet toolbox)

January 25th, 2017

We use MatLab a lot! It’s the major program for brain imaging data analysis in our lab. However, I never thought we could actually contribute to MatLab’s development.

In MatLab 2016, there is a toolbox called Wavelet Toolbox. If you read the document on wavelet coherence (link below), you will find that they used our NIRS data as an example:

Back in 2015/4/9, Wayne King from MathWorks contacted us, saying that they are developing the wavelet toolbox and asking if we can share some data as an example. We did. I’m glad that it’s part of the package now.

The following section are from the page above:

Find Coherent Oscillations in Brain Activity

In the previous examples, it was natural to view one time series as influencing the other. In these cases, examining the lead-lag relationship between the data is informative. In other cases, it is more natural to examine the coherence alone.

For an example, consider near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) data obtained in two human subjects. NIRS measures brain activity by exploiting the different absorption characteristics of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin. The data is taken from Cui, Bryant, & Reiss (2012) and was kindly provided by the authors for this example. The recording site was the superior frontal cortex for both subjects. The data is sampled at 10 Hz. In the experiment, the subjects alternatively cooperated and competed on a task. The period of the task was approximately 7.5 seconds.

load NIRSData;
hold on
legend('Subject 1','Subject 2','Location','NorthWest')
title('NIRS Data')
grid on;
hold off;

Obtain the wavelet coherence as a function of time and frequency. You can use wcoherence to output the wavelet coherence, cross-spectrum, scale-to-frequency, or scale-to-period conversions, as well as the cone of influence. In this example, the helper function helperPlotCoherence packages some useful commands for plotting the outputs of wcoherence.

[wcoh,~,F,coi] = wcoherence(NIRSData(:,1),NIRSData(:,2),10,'numscales',16);

In the plot, you see a region of strong coherence throughout the data collection period around 1 Hz. This results from the cardiac rhythms of the two subjects. Additionally, you see regions of strong coherence around 0.13 Hz. This represents coherent oscillations in the subjects’ brains induced by the task. If it is more natural to view the wavelet coherence in terms of periods rather than frequencies, you can use the ‘dt’ option and input the sampling interval. With the ‘dt’ option, wcoherence provides scale-to-period conversions.

[wcoh,~,P,coi] = wcoherence(NIRSData(:,1),NIRSData(:,2),seconds(0.1),...
    'Time (secs)','Periods (Seconds)');

Again, note the coherent oscillations corresponding to the subjects’ cardiac activity occurring throughout the recordings with a period of approximately one second. The task-related activity is also apparent with a period of approximately 8 seconds. Consult Cui, Bryant, & Reiss (2012) for a more detailed wavelet analysis of this data.


In this example you learned how to use wavelet coherence to look for time-localized coherent oscillatory behavior in two time series. For nonstationary signals, it is often more informative if you have a measure of coherence that provides simultaneous time and frequency (period) information. The relative phase information obtained from the wavelet cross-spectrum can be informative when one time series directly affects oscillations in the other.


Cui, X., Bryant, D.M., and Reiss. A.L. “NIRS-Based hyperscanning reveals increased interpersonal coherence in superior frontal cortex during cooperation”, Neuroimage, 59(3), pp. 2430-2437, 2012.

Grinsted, A., Moore, J.C., and Jevrejeva, S. “Application of the cross wavelet transform and wavelet coherence to geophysical time series”, Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 11, pp. 561-566, 2004.

Maraun, D., Kurths, J. and Holschneider, M. “Nonstationary Gaussian processes in wavelet domain: Synthesis, estimation and significance testing”, Phys. Rev. E 75, pp. 016707(1)-016707(14), 2007.

Torrence, C. and Webster, P. “Interdecadal changes in the ESNO-Monsoon System,” J.Clim., 12, pp. 2679-2690, 1999.

Author: Xu Cui Categories: brain, matlab, nirs, programming Tags:

Deep learning

January 20th, 2017

In the past months, I am shocked by the progress of artificial intelligence (mostly implemented by deep learning). In March 2016, AlphaGo won Lee Sedol (李世石) in Weiqi (go). I had mixed feelings, excited, sad, and some fear. Around new year of 2017, AlphaGo won 60 games in a row against numerous top professional Weiqi players in China, Korea and Japan, including #1 Ke Jie. There is no doubt AlphaGo is at least a level better than top human player. It’s interesting to see that the way how people call AlphaGo has changed from “dog” to “Teacher Ah”, reflecting the change of our attitude toward artificial intelligence.

Game is not the only area where AI shocked me. Below are some area AI / deep learning has done extremely well:

  1. convert text to handwriting: Try yourself at Maybe in the future you can use AI to write your greeting cards.
  2. Apply artistic style to drawings. Check out and
  3. Fluid simulation
  4. Generate a text description of an image
  5. Real time facial expression transfer
  6. Language translation
  7. Handwriting recognition (try it here: This is not new progress but still worth mentioning
  8. Medical diagnosis
  9. And many more. I will update this list constantly
In the field of biology and medicine, deep learning also progresses rapidly. Below is the number of publications using keyword “deep learning” in PubMed.
deep learning publications in PubMed
deep learning publications in PubMed
“Deep Learning” is also a keyword in my Stork. I got new papers almost every day.
Some resources to learn more about deep learning and keep updated:
  1. Track “Deep Learning” publications using Stork
  2. Subscribe youtube channel Two Minute Papers ( It contains many excellent short videos on the application of deep learning
  3. Play it here:
  4. A few examples here:
  5. I am going to take Udacity’s deep learning class at–nd101
Author: Xu Cui Categories: deep learning, programming Tags:


January 17th, 2017








Author: Xu Cui Categories: programming, stork, web Tags:

Communications between two MatLabs (2): over socket

October 17th, 2016

Aaron Piccirilli

Aaron Piccirilli

After the previous blog post Communications between two MatLabs (1) over file, Aaron Piccirilli in our lab suggested a more efficient way to communicate between two matlabs, i.e. over socket. Below is the source code provided by Aaron:

udpSocket = udp('', 'LocalPort', 2121, 'RemotePort', 2122);
udpCleaner = onCleanup(@() fclose(udpSocket));
for ii = 1:100
    fprintf(udpSocket, '%d%f', [ii ii/100]);
    disp(['Sending ' num2str(ii)]);
udpSocket = udp('', 'LocalPort', 2122, 'RemotePort', 2121);
udpCleaner = onCleanup(@() fclose(udpSocket));
    if udpSocket.BytesAvailable
        ii = fscanf(udpSocket, '%d%f');
        disp(['Received' num2str(ii(1)) '-' num2str(ii(2))])

More words from Aaron:

I also wrote a couple of quick tests to compare timing by having each method pass 10,000 random integers as quickly as they could. Using UDP is over four times faster on my work machine, and would be sufficient to keep up with sampling rates up to about 900 Hz, whereas the file-based transfer became too slow at about 200 Hz.

Obviously these rates and timings are going to be system and data-dependent, but the UDP implementation is about the same amount of code. It has some added benefits, too. First is what I mentioned before - that this allows you to communicate between different languages. Second, though, is what might be more important: buffer management. If your data source is sending data faster than you can process it, even for just a moment, the UDP method handles that gracefully with a buffer. To get the same functionality with the file method you have to write your own buffer maintenance - not too tricky, but adds another layer of complexity and probably won’t be as efficient.

I did a similar timing test passing 40 floats each time (say for 20 channels of NIRS data) instead of a single integer and the timing did not really change on my machine.

I also tested the above scripts, and they work beautifully! I definitely recommend this method over the ‘file’ method. One thing to note: when you Ctrl-C to quit the program, remember to close the socket (fclose(udpSocket)) AND clean the variables (udpSocket, udpCleaner); otherwise you will run into the “Unsuccessful open: Unrecognized Windows Sockets error: 0: Cannot bind” error.

Note from Aaron:

One note: the onCleanup function/object is designed as a callback of sorts: no matter how the function exits (normally, error, crash, Ctrl-C), when the onCleanup object is automatically then destroyed, its anonymous function should run. Thus, the UDP connection should be closed no matter how you exit the function. This won’t work for a script, though, or if you were just running the code on its own in a command window, as the onCleanup object wouldn’t be automatically destroyed. I would just exclude that line completely if you weren’t running it as a function.

Author: Xu Cui Categories: matlab, programming Tags: