Exponential Time Differencing Algorithm for Pulse-Coupled Hodgkin-Huxley Neural Networks

Zhong qi Kyle Tian, Douglas Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The exponential time differencing (ETD) method allows using a large time step to efficiently evolve stiff systems such as Hodgkin-Huxley (HH) neural networks. For pulse-coupled HH networks, the synaptic spike times cannot be predetermined and are convoluted with neuron's trajectory itself. This presents a challenging issue for the design of an efficient numerical simulation algorithm. The stiffness in the HH equations are quite different, for example, between the spike and non-spike regions. Here, we design a second-order adaptive exponential time differencing algorithm (AETD2) for the numerical evolution of HH neural networks. Compared with the regular second-order Runge-Kutta method (RK2), our AETD2 method can use time steps one order of magnitude larger and improve computational efficiency more than ten times while excellently capturing accurate traces of membrane potentials of HH neurons. This high accuracy and efficiency can be robustly obtained and do not depend on the dynamical regimes, connectivity structure or the network size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number40
JournalFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
StatePublished - May 8 2020


  • Hodgkin-Huxley
  • efficiency
  • exponential time differencing method
  • pulse-coupled
  • second-order

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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