Functional Overview#

MotorNet Classes

Being built in Python, Motornet is an object-oriented toolbox. There are six object classes to consider.

  • Muscle objects.
  • Skeleton objects.
  • Plant objects.
  • Network objects.
  • Task objects.
  • Loss objects.

In addition, a MotorNetModel class will wrap all these objects into a model instance, which TensorFlow can use like any TensorFlow model instance for training and inference. In fact, MotorNetModel is a subclass of tensorflow.keras.Model (see the API Documentation for more details).

Muscle class

Muscle objects handle muscle dynamics, and muscle state generation.

Skeleton class

Skeleton objects hold skeleton and geometry information, handle skeleton (motion) dynamics, generate joint states. and can convert joint states to cartesian states.

Plant class

Plant objects handle coordination of information flow between Muscle and Skeleton objects. They hold information about how muscles wrap around the skeleton, apply moment arms to forces generated by muscles to compute moment-adjusted (or generalized) forces that will be applied to skeletons. They also hold feedback delay properties.

Network class

Network objects hold network weights, perform the forward pass, and apply the feedback delays based on feedback properties held by the plant. They can also send a request to the Task object to recompute the target states online. This is useful if one wants the inputs to adjust based on some variable whose value changes over the trial.

Task class

Task objects holds loss information, can produce initial inputs to the network offline, and can perform recomputation of inputs online if the user desires.

Loss class

Loss objects compute penalty values for training the network free parameters (the weights). They also hold routines for compounding losses when several losses are assigned to the same output state.

Class Hierarchy

The classes presented above rely on each other to function correctly. Consequently, they must be declared in a sensible order, so that each instance retains as attribute the instances on which they rely. This leads to a hierarchical class structure, where each instance lives in the computer memory in a nested fashion with other instances. The illustration below displays how this hierarchy is organized.


Representation of the hierarchical relationship between class instances in MotorNet.

Information Flow at Runtime

Computation Steps

The figure below summarizes the operations performed at runtime, as well as what how information flows between class instances.

  • blue1 Recompute inputs [optional]
  • blue2 Send new motor commands
  • red1 Pass on motor commands
  • red2 Return forces
  • red3 Send moment-adjusted (generalized) forces
  • red4 Return new joint & cartesian states
  • red5 Return feedback states


Representation of information flow at runtime in MotorNet.

State Flow

A dedicated tutorial (available here) breaks down how states are generated and how they flow during computation. This is summarized in the illustration below, which is reproduced here for convenience.


Representation of the state flow at runtime in MotorNet.