The Max Planck Society @ NeurIPS 2020

Researchers from various research institutes of the Max Planck Society will again be represented at the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) 2020. At this year´s conference, more than 30 papers from us have been accepted.

The Max Planck Society is Germany’s most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, more than 20 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The currently 86 Max Planck Institutes and facilities conduct basic research in the service of the general public in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Max Planck Institutes focus on research fields that are particularly innovative, or that are especially demanding in terms of funding or time requirements.

The Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) strive to understand the principles of perception, action, and learning which underlie intelligent systems that successfully interact with complex environments. In addition to gaining a scientific understanding of natural intelligent systems, the institute’s researchers aim to use such insights to design artificially intelligent systems that could benefit humanity in the future. With campuses in Tübingen and Stuttgart, the MPI-IS combines theory, software, and hardware expertise in a single interdisciplinary center. This combination enables the pursuit of pioneering research in a broad range of connected topics within the thriving research field of intelligent systems.

One institute, two affiliates

Our Stuttgart site concentrates on physical realizations of intelligent systems, with departments in the broad fields of mobile micro-robots and haptics, and with research groups that emphasize smaller scales, biological inspiration, and control.

Our Tübingen site focuses on computational aspects of intelligence, with departments in the broad fields of computer vision and machine learning. It is also home to research groups that address theory, algorithms, and robotics.

Cyber Valley

Cyber Valley is Europe’s largest research consortium in the field of artificial intelligence with partners from politics, science, business and society. The partnership strengthens research and teaching in the fields of machine learning, computer vision and robotics as well as the links between these fields.

Partners include the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, the University of Stuttgart, the University of Tübingen, the State of Baden-Württemberg and seven industrial partners: Amazon, the BMW Group, IAV GmbH, Daimler AG, Porsche SE, Robert Bosch GmbH and ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Cyber Valley is also supported by the Christian Bürkert Foundation, the Gips-Schüle Foundation, the Vector Foundation and the Carl Zeiss Foundation.

The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

At the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, researchers are investigating information processing in neural systems. Using experimental and theoretical methods as well as computer simulations, they investigate the processes that underlie perception, decision-making, action and learning in humans and other animals. Various of their scientific findings have laid foundations for aspects of AI research and there will continue to be active, bidirectional, interactions between these collected disciplines. The Institute currently hosts five research departments: Computational Neuroscience (Peter Dayan), Physiology of Cognitive Processes (Nikos Logothetis), Perception, Cognition & Action (Heinrich Bülthoff), High-Field Magnetic Resonance (Klaus Scheffler) and Sensory & Sensorimotor Systems (Li Zhaoping). It also contains several independent research groups focusing on  Neuroengineering, the Computational Principles of Intelligence and beyond.

Our fields of research in Machine Learning and A.I.

Artificial intelligence is an interdisciplinary field of research in science and engineering that aims to recreate and improve upon behaviours whose specification and execution would normally be thought to require intelligence in humans or other animals. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics seek to understand perception, decision-making, action and learning in natural systems – this is fundamental for artificial intelligence. Part of this work is carried out in close collaboration with groups in CyberValley.

Machine learning is a discipline associated with artificial intelligence and statistics seeking to endow computers with the ability to acquire information from experience and act upon it appropriately. Humans and other animals have exquisite abilities in this direction, and are also able to balance their initial endowment (‘nature’) with what they experience (‘nuture’). Many studies at the Institute look at diverse aspects of learning in natural systems, and some of these have direct relevance to machine learning.

The ceasar Research Centre

caesar is a neuroethology institute that studies how the collective activity of the vast numbers of interconnected neurons in the brain gives rise to the plethora of animal behaviors. Our research is interdisciplinary and spans a large range of scale.

Interdisciplinary and interconnected

As of 2020, caesar hosts two research departments and nine research groups.

In collaboration with the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, the University of Bonn, Germany, and Florida Atlantic University, caesar runs the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Brain and Behavior. This first transatlantic IMPRS graduate program aims to train students in a large range of cutting-edge techniques which are currently instrumental in the quest for understanding brain circuit function in the whole animal and its role in defining behavior.

A wide research spectrum

Research at ceasar spans a large range of scales from the nano-scale imaging of the brain, to large-scale functional imaging of thousands of neurons in the brain, to the quantification of natural animal behavior. Our expertise drives the development of new technological contributions, both in experimental instrumentation as well as in computational modeling and data analysis methods. In addition to the technological breadth of the research groups departments at caesar, our neuroethological questions are comparative in nature and incorporate a diverse set of species allowing us to study the wide repertoire of behaviors across the animal kingdom.

The Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

As the Max Planck Society’s only North American research institute, Max Planck Florida is uniquely positioned to forge international partnerships as it works on the cutting-edge of neuroscience research. MPFI researchers study fundamental questions about brain development and function and to develop new technologies that make groundbreaking scientific discoveries possible.

Understanding the functional organization of the nervous system, its capacity to produce perception, thought, language, memory, emotion, and action remains the ultimate challenge for biology. Meeting this challenge requires forging links between different levels of analysis — genetic, molecular, cellular, circuit, and behavioral — and developing new technologies that make cutting edge scientific discoveries possible.

By bringing together outstanding scientists with a broad range of expertise in an exceptionally supportive, collaborative environment, The Max Planck Florida Institute is stimulating the development of innovative experimental approaches that are leading the world to a new understanding of brain function in health and disease.