From recipe to simulation

To build a simulation the following concepts are needed:

  • An arb::recipe that describes the cells and connections in the model.

  • An arb::context used to execute the simulation.

The workflow to build a simulation is to first generate a arb::domain_decomposition that describes the distribution of the model over the local and distributed hardware resources (see Domain decomposition), then build the simulation.

#include <arbor/context.hpp>
#include <arbor/domain_decomposition.hpp>
#include <arbor/simulation.hpp>

// Get a communication context
arb::context context = make_context();

// Make a recipe of user defined type my_recipe.
my_recipe recipe;

// Get a description of the partition the model over the cores
// (and gpu if available) on node.
arb::domain_decomposition decomp = arb::partition_load_balance(recipe, context);

// Instantiate the simulation.
arb::simulation sim(recipe, decomp, context);

Class documentation

class simulation

The executable form of a model. A simulation is constructed from a recipe, and then used to update and monitor model state.

Simulations take the following inputs:

  • The constructor takes:

  • Experimental inputs that can change between model runs, such as external spike trains.

Simulations provide an interface for executing and interacting with the model:

  • Advance model state from one time to another and reset model state to its original state before simulation was started.

  • I/O interface for sampling simulation state during execution (e.g. voltage and current) and spike output.


using spike_export_function = std::function<void(const std::vector<spike>&)>

User-supplied callback function used as a sink for spikes generated during a simulation. See set_local_spike_callback() and set_global_spike_callback().


simulation(const recipe &rec, const domain_decomposition &decomp, const context &ctx)

Experimental inputs:

void inject_events(const pse_vector &events)

Add events directly to targets. Must be called before calling run(), and must contain events that are to be delivered at or after the current simulation time.

Updating Model State:

void reset()

Reset the state of the simulation to its initial state.

time_type run(time_type tfinal, time_type dt)

Run the simulation from current simulation time to tfinal, with maximum time step size dt.

void set_binning_policy(binning_kind policy, time_type bin_interval)

Set event binning policy on all our groups.


sampler_association_handle add_sampler(cell_member_predicate probe_ids, schedule sched, sampler_function f, sampling_policy policy = sampling_policy::lax)

Note: sampler functions may be invoked from a different thread than that which called run().

(see the Sampling API documentation.)

void remove_sampler(sampler_association_handle)

Remove a sampler. (see the Sampling API documentation.)

void remove_all_samplers()

Remove all samplers from probes. (see the Sampling API documentation.)

std::size_t num_spikes() const

The total number of spikes generated since either construction or the last call to reset().

void set_global_spike_callback(spike_export_function export_callback)

Register a callback that will periodically be passed a vector with all of the spikes generated over all domains (the global spike vector) since the last call. Will be called on the MPI rank/domain with id 0.

void set_local_spike_callback(spike_export_function export_callback)

Register a callback that will periodically be passed a vector with all of the spikes generated on the local domain (the local spike vector) since the last call. Will be called on each MPI rank/domain with a copy of the local spikes.