Women in Mathematics Colloquium Series 2020
Threshold-linear networks (TLNs) are commonly-used rate models for modeling neural networks in the brain. Although the nonlinearity is quite simple, it leads to rich dynamics that can capture a variety of phenomena observed in neural activity: persistent activity, multistability, sequences, oscillations, etc. Here we study competitive threshold-linear networks, which exhibit both static and dynamic attractors. These networks have corresponding hyperplane arrangements whose oriented matroids encode important features of the dynamics. We will show how the graph associated to such a network yields constraints on the set of (stable and unstable) fixed points, and how these constraints affect the dynamics. In the special case of combinatorial threshold-linear networks (CTLNs), we find an even stronger set of "graph rules" that allow us to predict emergent sequences and to engineer networks with prescribed dynamic attractors.