A simple CNN for the MNIST datasets – II – building the CNN with Keras and a first test

I continue with my series on first exploratory steps with CNNs. After all the discussion of CNN basics in the last article,

A simple CNN for the MNIST datasets – I,

we are well prepared to build a very simple CNN with Keras. By simple I mean simple enough to handle the MNIST digit images. The Keras API for creating CNN models, layers and activation functions is very convenient; a simple CNN does not require much code. So, the Jupyter environment is sufficient for our first experiment.

An interesting topic is the use of a GPU. After a somewhat frustrating experience with a MLP on the GPU of a NV 960 GTX in comparison to a i7 6700K CPU I am eager to see whether we get a reasonable GPU acceleration for a CNN. So, we should prepare our code to use the GPU. This requires a bit of preparation.

We should also ask a subtle question: What do we expect from a CNN in comparison to a MLP regarding the MNIST data? A MLP with 2 hidden layers (with 70 and 30 nodes) provided over 99.5% accuracy on the training data and almost 98% accuracy on a test dataset after some tweaking. Even with basic settings for our MLP we arrived at a value over 97.7% after 35 epochs - below 8 secs. Well, a CNN is probably better in feature recognition than a cluster detection algorithm. But we are talking about the last 2 % of remaining accuracy. I admit that I did not know what to expect ...

A MLP as an important part of a CNN

At the end of the last article I had discussed a very simple layer structure of convolutional and pooling layers:

  • Layer 0: Input layer (tensor of original image data, 3 layers for color channels or one layer for a gray channel)
  • Layer 1: Conv layer (small 3x3 kernel, stride 1, 32 filters => 32 maps (26x26), overlapping filter areas)
  • Layer 2: Pooling layer (2x2 max pooling => 32 (13x13) maps,
    a map node covers 4x4 non overlapping areas per node on the original image)
  • Layer 3: Conv layer (3x3 kernel, stride 1, 64 filters => 64 maps (11x11),
    a map node covers 8x8 overlapping areas on the original image (total effective stride 2))
  • Layer 4: Pooling layer (2x2 max pooling => 64 maps (5x5),
    a map node covers 10x10 areas per node on the original image (total effective stride 5), some border info lost)
  • Layer 5: Conv layer (3x3 kernel, stride 1, 64 filters => 64 maps (3x3),
    a map node covers 18x18 areas per node (effective stride 5), some border info lost )

This is the CNN structure we are going to use in the near future. (Actually, I followed a suggestion of Francois Chollet; see the literature list in the last article). Let us assume that we somehow have established all these convolution and pooling layers for a CNN. Each layer producse some "feature"-related output, structured in form of a tensors. This led to an open question at the end of the last article:

Where and by what do we get a classification of the resulting data with respect to the 10 digit categories of the MNIST images?

Applying filters and extracting "feature hierarchies" of an image alone does not help without a "learned" judgement about these data. But the answer is very simple:

Use a MLP after the last Conv layer and feed it with data from this Conv layer!

When we think in terms of nodes and artificial neurons, we could say: We just have to connect the "nodes" of the feature maps of layer 5 in our special CNN with the nodes of an input layer of a MLP. As a MLP has a flat input layer we need to prepare 9x64 = 576 receiving "nodes" there. We would use weights with a value of "1.0" along these special connections.

Mathematically, this approach can be expressed in terms of a "flattening" operation on the tensor data produced by the the last Conv data. In Numpy terms: We need to reshape the multidimensional tensor containing the values across the stack of maps at the last Conv2D layer into a long 1D array (= a vector).

From a more general perspective we could say: Feeding the output of the Conv part of our CNN into a MLP for classification is quite similar to what we did when we pre-processed the MNIST data by an unsupervised cluster detection algorithm; also there we used the resulting data as input to an MLP. There is one big difference, however:

The optimization of the network's weights during training requires a BW propagation of error terms (more precisely: derivatives of the CNN's loss function) across the MLP AND the convolutional and pooling layers. Error BW propagation should not be stopped at the MLP's input layer: It has to move from the output layer of the MLP back to the MLP's input layer and from there to the convolutional and pooling layers. Remember that suitable filter kernels have to be found during (supervised) training.

If you read my PDF on the error back propagation for a MLP
PDF on the math behind Error Back_Propagation
and think a bit about its basic recipes and results you quickly see that the "input layer" of the MLP is no barrier to error back propagation: The "deltas" discussed in the PDF can be back-propagated right down to the MLP's input layer. Then we just apply the chain rule again. The partial derivatives at the nodes of the input layer with respect to their input values are just "1", because the activation function there is the identity function. The "weights" between the last Conv layer and the input layer of the MLP are no free parameters - we do not need to care about them. And then everything goes its normal way - we apply chain rule after chain rule for all nodes of the maps to determine the gradients of the CNN's loss function with respect to the weights there. But you need not think about the details - Keras and TF2 will take proper care about everything ...

But, you should always keep the following in mind: Whatever we discuss in terms of layers and nodes - in a CNN these are only fictitious interpretations of a series of mathematical operations on tensor data. Not less, not more ..,. Nodes and layers are just very helpful (!) illustrations of non-cyclic graphs of mathematical operations. KI on the level of my present discussion (MLPs, CNNs) "just" corresponds to algorithms which emerge out of a specific deterministic approach to solve an optimization problem.

Using Tensorflow 2 and Keras

Let us now turn to coding. To be able to use a Nvidia GPU we need a Cuda/Cudnn installation and a working Tensorflow backend for Keras. I have already described the installation of CUDA 10.2 and CUDNN on an Opensuse Linux system in some detail in the article Getting a Keras based MLP to run with Cuda 10.2, Cudnn 7.6 and TensorFlow 2.0 on an Opensuse Leap 15.1 system. You can follow the hints there. In case you run into trouble on your Linux distribution try everything with Cuda 10.1.

Some more hints: TF2 in version 2.2 can be installed by the Pip-mechanism in your virtual Python environment ("pip install --upgrade tensorflow"). TF2 contains already a special Keras version - which is the one we are going to use in our upcoming experiment. So, there is no need to install Keras separately with "pip". Note also that, in contrast to TF1, it is NOT necessary to install a separate package "tensorflow-gpu". If all these things are new to you: You find some articles on creating an adequate ML test and development environment based on Python/PyDev/Jupyter somewhere else in this blog.

Imports and settings for CPUs/GPUs

We shall use a Jupyter notebook to perform the basic experiments; but I recommend strongly to consolidate your code in Python files of an Eclipse/PyDev environment afterwards. Before you start your virtual Python environment from a Linux shell you should set the following environment variables:

$>export OPENBLAS_NUM_THREADS=4 # or whatever is reasonable for your CPU (but do not use all CPU cores and/or hyper threads                            
$>export OMP_NUM_THREADS=4                                
$>export TF_XLA_FLAGS=--tf_xla_cpu_global_jit
$>export XLA_FLAGS=--xla_gpu_cuda_data_dir=/usr/local/cuda
$>source bin/activate                                     
(ml_1) $> jupyter notebook

Required Imports

The following commands in a first Jupyter cell perform the required library imports:

import numpy as np
import scipy
import time 
import sys 
import os

import tensorflow as tf
from tensorflow import keras as K
from tensorflow.python.keras import backend as B 
from keras import models
from keras import layers
from keras.utils import to_categorical
from keras.datasets import mnist
from tensorflow.python.client import device_lib

from sklearn.preprocessing import StandardScaler

Do not ignore the statement "from tensorflow.python.keras import backend as B"; we need it later.

The "StandardScaler" of Scikit-Learn will help us to "standardize" the MNIST input data. This is a step which you should know already from MLPs ... You can, of course, also experiment with different normalization procedures. But in my opinion using the "StandardScaler" is just convenient. ( I assume that you already have installed scikit-learn in your virtual Python environment).

Settings for CPUs/GPUs

With TF2 the switching between CPU and GPU is a bit of a mess. Not all new parameters and their settings work as expected. As I have explained in the article on the Cuda installation named above, I, therefore, prefer to an old school, but reliable TF1 approach and use the compatibility interface:

#gpu = False 
gpu = True
if gpu: 
    GPU = True;  CPU = False; num_GPU = 1; num_CPU = 1
else: 
    GPU = False; CPU = True;  num_CPU = 1; num_GPU = 0

config = tf.compat.v1.ConfigProto(intra_op_parallelism_threads=6,
                        inter_op_parallelism_threads=1, 
                        allow_soft_placement=True,
                        device_count = {'CPU' : num_CPU,
                                        'GPU' : num_GPU}, 
                        log_device_placement=True

                       )
config.gpu_options.per_process_gpu_memory_fraction=0.35
config.gpu_options.force_gpu_compatible = True
B.set_session(tf.compat.v1.Session(config=config))

We are brave and try our first runs directly on a GPU. The statement "log_device_placement" will help us to get information about which device - CPU or GP - is actually used.

Loading and preparing MNIST data

We prepare a function which loads and prepares the MNIST data for us. The statements reflect more or less what we did with the MNIST dat when we used them for MLPs.

  
# load MNIST 
# **********
def load_Mnist():
    mnist = K.datasets.mnist
    (X_train, y_train), (X_test, y_test) = mnist.load_data()

    #print(X_train.shape)
    #print(X_test.shape)

    # preprocess - flatten 
    len_train =  X_train.shape[0]
    len_test  =  X_test.shape[0]
    X_train = X_train.reshape(len_train, 28*28) 
    X_test  = X_test.reshape(len_test, 28*28) 

    #concatenate
    _X = np.concatenate((X_train, X_test), axis=0)
    _y = np.concatenate((y_train, y_test), axis=0)

    _dim_X = _X.shape[0]

    # 32-bit
    _X = _X.astype(np.float32)
    _y = _y.astype(np.int32)

    # normalize  
    scaler = StandardScaler()
    _X = scaler.fit_transform(_X)

    # mixing the training indices - MUST happen BEFORE encoding
    shuffled_index = np.random.permutation(_dim_X)
    _X, _y = _X[shuffled_index], _y[shuffled_index]

    # split again 
    num_test  = 10000
    num_train = _dim_X - num_test
    X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = _X[:num_train], _X[num_train:], _y[:num_train], _y[num_train:]

    # reshape to Keras tensor requirements 
    train_imgs = X_train.reshape((num_train, 28, 28, 1))
    test_imgs  = X_test.reshape((num_test, 28, 28, 1))
    #print(train_imgs.shape)
    #print(test_imgs.shape)

    # one-hot-encoding
    train_labels = to_categorical(y_train)
    test_labels  = to_categorical(y_test)
    #print(test_labels[4])
    
    return train_imgs, test_imgs, train_labels, test_labels

if gpu:
    with tf.device("/GPU:0"):
        train_imgs, test_imgs, train_labels, test_labels= load_Mnist()
else:
    with tf.device("/CPU:0"):
        train_imgs, test_imgs, train_labels, test_labels= load_Mnist()

 
Some comments:

  • Normalization and shuffling: The "StandardScaler" is used for data normalization. I also shuffled the data to avoid any pre-ordered sequences. We know these steps already from the MLP code we built in another article series.
  • Image data in tensor form: Something, which is different from working with MLPs is that we have to fulfill some requirements regarding the form of input data. From the last article we know already that our data should have a tensor compatible form; Keras expects data from us which have a certain shape. So, no flattening of the data into a vector here as we were used to with MLPs. For images we, instead, need the width, the height of our images in terms of pixels and also the depth (here 1 for gray-scale images). In addition the data samples are to be indexed along the first tensor axis.
    This means that we need to deliver a 4-dimensional array corresponding to a TF tensor of rank 4. Keras/TF2 will do the necessary transformation from a Numpy array to a TF2 tensor automatically for us. The corresponding Numpy shape of the required array is:
    (samples, height, width, depth)
    Some people also use the term "channels" instead of "depth". In the case of MNIST we reshape the input array - "train_imgs" to (num_train, 28, 28, 1), with "num_train" being the number of samples.
  • The use of the function "to_categorical()", more precisely "tf.keras.utils.to_categorical()", corresponds to a one-hot-encoding of the target data. All these concepts are well known from our study of MLPs and MNIST. Keras makes life easy regarding this point ...
  • The statements "with tf.device("/GPU:0"):" and "with tf.device("/CPU:0"):" delegate the execution of (suitable) code on the GPU or the CPU. Note that due to the Python/Jupyter environment some code will of course also be executed on the CPU - even if you delegated execution to the GPU.

If you activate the print statements the resulting output should be:

(60000, 28, 28)
(10000, 28, 28)
(60000, 28, 28, 1)
(10000, 28, 28, 1)
[0. 0. 0. 0. 0. 0. 0. 1. 0. 0.]

The last line proves the one-hot-encoding.

The CNN architecture - and Keras' layer API

Now, we come to a central point: We need to build the 5 central layers of our CNN-architecture. When we build our own MLP code we used a special method to build the different weight arrays, which represented the number of nodes via the array dimensions. A simple method was sufficient as we had no major differences between layers. But with CNNs we have to work with substantially different types of layers. So, how are layers to be handled with Keras?

Well, Keras provides a full layer API with different classes for a variety of layers. You find substantial information on this API and different types of layers at
https://keras.io/api/layers/.

The first section which is interesting for our experiment is https://keras.io/api/ layers/ convolution_layers/ convolution2d/.
You do not need to read much to understand that this is exactly what we need for the "convolutional layers" of our simple CNN model. But how do we instantiate the Conv2D class such that the output works seamlessly together with other layers?

Keras makes our life easy again. All layers are to be used in a purely sequential order. (There are much more complicated layer topologies you can build with Keras! Oh, yes ...). Well, you guess it: Keras offers you a model API; see:
https://keras.io/api/models/.

And there we find a class for a "sequential model" - see https://keras.io/api/ models/sequential/. This class offers us a method "add()" to add layers (and create an instance of the related layer class).

The only missing ingredient is a class for a "pooling" layer. Well, you find it in the layer API documentation, too. The following image depicts the basic structure of our CNN (see the left side of the drawing), as we designed it (see the list above):

Keras code for the Conv and pooling layers

The convolutional part of the CNN can be set up by the following commands:

Convolutional part of the CNN

# Sequential layer model of our CNN
# ***********************************

# Build the Conv part of the CNN
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

# Choose the activation function for the Conv2D layers 
conv_act_func = 1
li_conv_act_funcs = ['sigmoid', 'relu', 'elu', 'tanh']
cact = li_conv_act_funcs[conv_act_func]

# Build the Conv2D layers 
cnn = models.Sequential()
cnn.add(layers.Conv2D(32, (3,3), activation=cact, input_shape=(28,28,1)))
cnn.add(layers.MaxPooling2D((2,2)))
cnn.add(layers.Conv2D(64, (3,3), activation=cact))
cnn.add(layers.MaxPooling2D((2,2)))
cnn.add(layers.Conv2D(64, (3,3), activation=cact))

Easy, isn't it? The nice thing about Keras is that it cares about the required tensor ranks and shapes itself; in a sequential model it evaluates the output of a already defined layer to guess the shape of the tensor data entering the next layer. Thus we have to define an "input_shape" only for data entering the first Conv2D layer!

The first Conv2D layer requires, of course, a shape for the input data. We must also tell the layer interface how many filters and "feature maps" we want to use. In our case we produce 32 maps by first Conv2D layer and 64 by the other two Conv2D layers. The (3x3)-parameter defines the filter area size to be covered by the filter kernel: 3x3 pixels. We define no "stride", so a stride of 1 is automatically used; all 3x3 areas lie close to each other and overlap each other. These parameters result in 32 maps of size 26x26 after the first convolution. The size of the maps of the other layers are given in the layer list at the beginning of this article.

In addition you saw from the code that we chose an activation function via an index of a Python list of reasonable alternatives. You find an explanation of all the different activation functions in the literature. (See also: wikipedia: Activation function). The "sigmoid" function should be well known to you already from my other article series on a MLP.

Now, we have to care about the MLP part of the CNN. The code is simple:

MLP part of the CNN

# Build the MLP part of the CNN
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

# Choose the activation function for the hidden layers of the MLP 
mlp_h_act_func = 0
li_mlp_h_act_funcs = ['relu', 'sigmoid', 'tanh']
mhact = li_mlp_h_act_funcs[mlp_h_act_func]

# Choose the output function for the output layer of the MLP 
mlp_o_act_func = 0
li_mlp_o_act_funcs = ['softmax', 'sigmoid']
moact = li_mlp_o_act_funcs[mlp_o_act_func]

# Build the MLP layers 
cnn.add(layers.Flatten())
cnn.add(layers.Dense(70, activation=mhact))
#cnn.add(layers.Dense(30, activation=mhact))
cnn.add(layers.Dense(10, activation=moact))

This all is very straight forward (with the exception of the last statement). The "Flatten"-layer corresponds to the MLP's inout layer. It just transforms the tensor output of the last Conv2D layer into the flat form usable for the first "Dense" layer of the MLP. The first and only "Dense layer" (MLP hidden layer) builds up connections from the flat MLP "input layer" and associates it with weights. Actually, it prepares a weight-tensor for a tensor-operation on the output data of the feeding layer. Dense means that all "nodes" of the previous layer are connected to the present layer's own "nodes" - meaning: setting the right dimensions of the weight tensor (matrix in our case). As a first trial we work with just one hidden layer. (We shall later see that more layers will not improve accuracy.)

I choose the output function (if you will: the activation function of the output layer) as "softmax". This gives us a probability distribution across the classification categories. Note that this is a different approach compared to what we have done so far with MLPs. I shall comment on the differences in a separate article when I find the time for it. At this point I just want to indicate that softmax combined with the "categorical cross entropy loss" is a generalized version of the combination "sigmoid" with "log loss" as we used it for our MLP.

Parameterization

The above code for creating the CNN would work. However, we want to be able to parameterize our simple CNN. So we include the above statements in a function for which we provide parameters for all layers. A quick solution is to define layer parameters as elements of a Python list - we then get one list per layer. (If you are a friend of clean code design I recommend to choose a more elaborated approach; inject just one parameter object containing all parameters in a structured way. I leave this exercise to you.)

We now combine the statements for layer construction in a function:

  
# Sequential layer model of our CNN
# ***********************************

# just for illustration - th ereal parameters are fed later 
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
li_conv_1   = [32, (3,3), 0] 
li_conv_2   = [64, (3,3), 0] 
li_conv_3   = [64, (3,3), 0] 
li_Conv     = [li_conv_1, li_conv_2, li_conv_3]
li_pool_1   = [(2,2)]
li_pool_2   = [(2,2)]
li_Pool     = [li_pool_1, li_pool_2]
li_dense_1  = [70, 0]
li_dense_2  = [10, 0]
li_MLP      = [li_dense_1, li_dense_2]
input_shape = (28,28,1)

# important !!
# ~~~~~~~~~~~
cnn = None

def build_cnn_simple(li_Conv, li_Pool, li_MLP, input_shape ):

    # activation functions to be used in Conv-layers 
    li_conv_act_funcs = ['relu', 'sigmoid', 'elu', 'tanh']
    # activation functions to be used in MLP hidden layers  
    li_mlp_h_act_funcs = ['relu', 'sigmoid', 'tanh']
    # activation functions to be used in MLP output layers  
    li_mlp_o_act_funcs = ['softmax', 'sigmoid']

    
    # Build the Conv part of the CNN
    # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    num_conv_layers = len(li_Conv)
    num_pool_layers = len(li_Pool)
    if num_pool_layers != num_conv_layers - 1: 
        print("\nNumber of pool layers does not fit to number of Conv-layers")
        sys.exit()
    rg_il = range(num_conv_layers)

    # Define a sequential model 
    cnn = models.Sequential()

    for il in rg_il:
        # add the convolutional layer 
        num_filters = li_Conv[il][0]
        t_fkern_size = li_Conv[il][1]
        cact        = li_conv_act_funcs[li_Conv[il][2]]
        if il==0:
            cnn.add(layers.Conv2D(num_filters, t_fkern_size, activation=cact, input_shape=input_shape))
        else:
            cnn.add(layers.Conv2D(num_filters, t_fkern_size, activation=cact))
        
        # add the pooling layer 
        if il < num_pool_layers:
            t_pkern_size = li_Pool[il][0]
            cnn.add(layers.MaxPooling2D(t_pkern_size))
            

    # Build the MLP part of the CNN
    # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    num_mlp_layers = len(li_MLP)
    rg_im = range(num_mlp_layers)

    cnn.add(layers.Flatten())

    for im in rg_im:
        # add the dense layer 
        n_nodes = li_MLP[im][0]
        if im < num_mlp_layers - 1:  
            m_act   =  li_mlp_h_act_funcs[li_MLP[im][1]]
        else: 
            m_act   =  li_mlp_o_act_funcs[li_MLP[im][1]]
        cnn.add(layers.Dense(n_nodes, activation=m_act))

    return cnn 

 

We return the model "cnn" to be able to use it afterwards.

How many parameters does our CNN have?

The layers contribute with the following numbers of weight parameters:

  • Layer 1: (32 x (3x3)) + 32 = 320
  • Layer 3: 32 x 64 x (3x3) + 64 = 18496
  • Layer 5: 64 x 64 x (3x3) + 64 = 36928
  • MLP : (576 + 1) x 70 + (70 + 1) x 10 = 41100

Making a total of 96844 weight parameters. Our standard MLP discussed in another article series had (784+1) x 70 + (70 + 1) x 30 + (30 +1 ) x 10 = 57390 weights. So, our CNN is bigger and the CPU time to follow and calculate all the partial derivatives will be significantly higher. So, we should definitely expect some better classification data, shouldn't we?

Compilation

Now comes a thing which is necessary for models: We have not yet defined the loss function and the optimizer or a learning rate. For the latter Keras can choose a proper value itself - as soon as it knows the loss function. But we should give it a reasonable loss function and a suitable optimizer for gradient descent. This is the main purpose of the "compile()"-function.

cnn.compile(optimizer='rmsprop', loss='categorical_crossentropy', metrics=['accuracy'])

Although TF2 can already analyze the graph of tensor operations for partial derivatives, it cannot guess the beginning of the chain rule sequence.

As we have multiple categories "categorial_crossentropy" is a good choice for the loss function. We should also define which optimized gradient descent method is used; we choose "rmsprop" - as this method works well in most cases. A nice introduction is given here: towardsdatascience: understanding-rmsprop-faster-neural-network-learning-62e116fcf29a. But see the books mentioned in the last article on "rmsprop", too.

Regarding the use of different metrics for different tasks see machinelearningmastery.com / custom-metrics-deep-learning-keras-python/. In case of a classification problem, we are interested in the categorical "accuracy". A metric can be monitored during training and will be recorded (besides aother data). We can use it for plotting information on the training process (a topic of the next article).

Training

Training is done by a function model.fit() - here: cnn.fit(). This function accepts a variety of parameters explained here: https://keras.io/ api/ models/ model_training_apis/ #fit-method.

We now can combine compilation and training in one function:

# Training 
def train( cnn, build=False, train_imgs, train_labels, reset, epochs, batch_size, optimizer, loss, metrics,
           li_Conv, li_Poo, li_MLP, input_shape ):
    if build:
        cnn = build_cnn_simple( li_Conv, li_Pool, li_MLP, input_shape)
        cnn.compile(optimizer=optimizer, loss=loss, metrics=metrics)        
        cnn.save_weights('cnn_weights.h5') # save the initial weights 
    # reset weights
    if reset and not build:
        cnn.load_weights('cnn_weights.h5')
    start_t = time.perf_counter()
    cnn.fit(train_imgs, train_labels, epochs=epochs, batch_size=batch_size, verbose=1, shuffle=True) 
    end_t = time.perf_counter()
    fit_t = end_t - start_t
    return cnn, fit_t  # we return cnn to be able to use it by other functions

Note that we save the initial weights to be able to load them again for a new training - otherwise Keras saves the weights as other model data after training and continues with the last weights found. The latter can be reasonable if you want to continue training in defined steps. However, in our forthcoming tests we repeat the training from scratch.

Keras offers a "save"-model and methods to transfer data of a CNN model to files (in two specific formats). For saving weights the given lines are sufficient. Hint: When I specify no path to the file "cnn_weights.h5" the data are - at least in my virtual Python environment - saved in the directory where the notebook is located.

First test

In a further Jupyter cell we place the following code for a test run:

  
# Perform a training run 
# ********************
build = False     
if cnn == None:
    build = True
batch_size=64
epochs=5
reset = True # we want training to start again with the initial weights

optimizer='rmsprop' 
loss='categorical_crossentropy'
metrics=['accuracy']

li_conv_1   = [32, (3,3), 0] 
li_conv_2   = [64, (3,3), 0] 
li_conv_3   = [64, (3,3), 0] 
li_Conv     = [li_conv_1, li_conv_2, li_conv_3]
li_pool_1   = [(2,2)]
li_pool_2   = [(2,2)]
li_Pool     = [li_pool_1, li_pool_2]
li_dense_1  = [70, 0]
li_dense_2  = [10, 0]
li_MLP      = [li_dense_1, li_dense_2]
input_shape = (28,28,1)

try: 
    if gpu:
        with tf.device("/GPU:0"):
            cnn, fit_time = train( cnn, build, train_imgs, train_labels, 
                                   reset, epochs, batch_size, optimizer, loss, metrics, 
                                   li_Conv, li_Pool, li_MLP, input_shape)
        print('Time_GPU: ', fit_time)  
    else:
        with tf.device("/CPU:0"):
            cnn, fit_time = train( cnn, build, train_imgs, train_labels, 
                                   reset, epochs, batch_size, optimizer, loss, metrics, 
                                   li_Conv, li_Pool, li_MLP, input_shape)
        print('Time_CPU: ', fit_time)  
except SystemExit:
    print("stopped due to exception")

You recognize the parameterization of our train()-function. What results do we get ?

Epoch 1/5
60000/60000 [==============================] - 4s 69us/step - loss: 0.1551 - accuracy: 0.9520
Epoch 2/5
60000/60000 [==============================] - 4s 69us/step - loss: 0.0438 - accuracy: 0.9868
Epoch 3/5
60000/60000 [==============================] - 4s 68us/step - loss: 0.0305 - accuracy: 0.9907
Epoch 4/5
60000/60000 [==============================] - 4s 69us/step - loss: 0.0227 - accuracy: 0.9931
Epoch 5/5
60000/60000 [==============================] - 4s 69us/step - loss: 0.0184 - accuracy: 0.9948
Time_GPU:  20.610678611003095

 

And a successive check on the test data gives us:

We can ask Keras also for a description of the model:

Accuracy at the 99% level

We got an accuracy on the test data of 99%! With 5 epochs in 20 seconds - on my old GPU.
This leaves us a very good impression - on first sight ...

Conclusion

We saw today that it is easy to set up a CNN. We used a simple MLP to solve the problem of classification; the data to its input layer are provided by the output of the last convolutional layer. The tensor there has just to be "flattened".

The level of accuracy reached is impressing. Well, its also a bit frustrating when we think about the efforts we put into our MLP, but we also get a sense for the power and capabilities of CNNs.

In the next article we will care a bit about plotting. We at least want to see the same data which we plotted at the end of our MLP tests.

MLP, Numpy, TF2 – performance issues – Step III – a correction to BW propagation

In the last articles of this series

MLP, Numpy, TF2 – performance issues – Step II – bias neurons, F- or C- contiguous arrays and performance
MLP, Numpy, TF2 – performance issues – Step I – float32, reduction of back propagation

we looked at the FW-propagation of the MLP code which I discussed in another article series. We found that the treatment of bias neurons in the input layer was technically inefficient due to a collision of C- and F-contiguous arrays. By circumventing the problem we could accelerate the FW-propagation of big batches (as the complete training or test data set) by more than a factor of 2.

In this article I want to turn to the BW propagation and do some analysis regarding CPU consumption there. We will find a simple (and stupid) calculation step there which we shall replace. This will give us another 15% to 22% performance improvement in comparison to what we have reached in the last article for MNIST data:

  • 9.6 secs for 35 epochs and a batch-size of 500
  • and 8.7 secs for a batch-size of 20000.

Present CPU time relation between the FW- and the BW-propagation

The central training of mini-batches is performed by the method "_handle_mini_batch()".

#
    ''' -- Method to deal with a batch -- '''
    def _handle_mini_batch (self, num_batch = 0, num_epoch = 0, b_print_y_vals = False, b_print = False, b_keep_bw_matrices = True):
        ''' .... '''
        # Layer-related lists to be filled with 2-dim Numpy matrices during FW propagation
        # ********************************************************************************
        li_Z_in_layer  = [None] * self._n_total_layers # List of matrices with z-input values for each layer; filled during FW-propagation
        li_A_out_layer = li_Z_in_layer.copy()          # List of matrices with results of activation/output-functions for each layer; filled during FW-propagation
        li_delta_out   = li_Z_in_layer.copy()          # Matrix with out_delta-values at the outermost layer 
        li_delta_layer = li_Z_in_layer.copy()          # List of the matrices for the BW propagated delta values 
        li_D_layer     = li_Z_in_layer.copy()          # List of the derivative matrices D containing partial derivatives of the activation/ouput functions 
        li_grad_layer  = li_Z_in_layer.copy()          # List of the matrices with gradient values for weight corrections
        
        # Major steps for the mini-batch during one epoch iteration 
        # **********************************************************
        
        #ts=time.perf_counter()
        # Step 0: List of indices for data records in the present mini-batch
        # ******
        ay_idx_batch = self._ay_mini_batches[num_batch]
        
        # Step 1: Special preparation of the Z-input to the MLP's input Layer L0
        # ******
        # ts=time.perf_counter()
        # slicing 
        li_Z_in_layer[0] = self._X_train[ay_idx_batch] # numpy arrays can be indexed by an array of integers
        
        # transposition 
        #~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        li_Z_in_layer[0] = li_Z_in_layer[0].T
        #te=time.perf_counter(); t_batch = te - ts;
        #print("\nti - transposed inputbatch =", t_batch)
        
        # Step 2: Call forward propagation method for the present mini-batch of training records
        # *******
        #tsa = time.perf_counter() 
        self._fw_propagation(li_Z_in = li_Z_in_layer, li_A_out = li_A_out_layer) 
        #tea = time.perf_counter(); ta = tea - tsa;  print("ta - FW-propagation", "%10.8f"%ta)
        
        # Step 3: Cost calculation for the mini-batch 
        # ********
        #tsb = time.perf_counter() 
        ay_y_enc = self._ay_onehot[:, ay_idx_batch]
        ay_ANN_out = li_A_out_layer[self._n_total_layers-1]
        total_costs_batch, rel_reg_contrib = self._calculate_loss_for_batch(ay_y_enc, ay_ANN_out, b_print = False)
        # we add the present cost value to the numpy array 
        self._ay_costs[num_epoch, num_batch]            = total_costs_batch
        self._ay_reg_cost_contrib[num_epoch, num_batch] = rel_reg_contrib
        #teb = time.perf_counter(); tb = teb - tsb; print("tb - cost calculation", "%10.8f"%tb)
        
        
        # Step 4: Avg-error for later plotting 
        # ********
        #tsc = time.perf_counter() 
        # mean "error" values - averaged over all nodes at outermost layer and all data sets of a mini-batch 
        ay_theta_out = ay_y_enc - ay_ANN_out
        ay_theta_avg = np.average(np.abs(ay_theta_out)) 
        self._ay_theta[num_epoch, num_batch] = ay_theta_avg 
        #tec = time.perf_counter(); tc = tec - tsc; print("tc - error", "%10.8f"%tc)
        
        
        # Step 5: Perform gradient calculation via back propagation of errors
        # ******* 
        #tsd = time.perf_counter() 
        self._bw_propagation( ay_y_enc = ay_y_enc, 
                              li_Z_in = li_Z_in_layer, 
                              li_A_out = li_A_out_layer, 
                              li_delta_out = li_delta_out, 
                              li_delta = li_delta_layer,
                              li_D = li_D_layer, 
                              li_grad = li_grad_layer, 
                              b_print = b_print,
                              b_internal_timing = False 
                              ) 
        #ted = time.perf_counter(); td = ted - tsd; print("td - BW propagation", "%10.8f"%td)
        
        # Step 7: Adjustment of weights  
        # *******        
        #tsf = time.perf_counter() 
        rg_layer=range(0, self._n_total_layers -1)
        for N in rg_layer:
            delta_w_N = self._learn_rate * li_grad_layer[N]
            self._li_w[N] -= ( delta_w_N + (self._mom_rate * self._li_mom[N]) )
            
            # save momentum
            self._li_mom[N] = delta_w_N
        #tef = time.perf_counter(); tf = tef - tsf; print("tf - weight correction", "%10.8f"%tf)
        
        return None

 

I took some time measurements there:

ti - transposed inputbatch = 0.0001785
ta - FW-propagation 0.00080975
tb - cost calculation 0.00030705
tc - error 0.00016182
td - BW propagation 0.00112558
tf - weight correction 0.00020079

ti - transposed inputbatch = 0.00018144
ta - FW-propagation 0.00082022
tb - cost calculation 0.00031284
tc - error 0.00016652
td - BW propagation 0.00106464
tf - weight correction 0.00019576

You see that the FW-propagation is a bit faster than the BW-propagation. This is a bit strange as the FW-propagation is dominated meanwhile by a really expensive operation which we cannot accelerate (without choosing a new activation function): The calculation of the sigmoid value for the inputs at layer L1.

So let us look into the BW-propagation; the code for it is momentarily:

    ''' -- Method to handle error BW propagation for a mini-batch --'''
    def _bw_propagation(self, 
                        ay_y_enc, li_Z_in, li_A_out, 
                        li_delta_out, li_delta, li_D, li_grad, 
                        b_print = True, b_internal_timing = False):
        
        # List initialization: All parameter lists or arrays are filled or to be filled by layer operations 
        # Note: the lists li_Z_in, li_A_out were already filled by _fw_propagation() for the present batch 
        
        # Initiate BW propagation - provide delta-matrices for outermost layer
        # *********************** 
        tsa = time.perf_counter() 
        # Input Z at outermost layer E  (4 layers -> layer 3)
        ay_Z_E = li_Z_in[self._n_total_layers-1]
        # Output A at outermost layer E (was calculated by output function)
        ay_A_E = li_A_out[self._n_total_layers-1]
        
        # Calculate D-matrix (derivative of output function) at outmost the layer - presently only D_sigmoid 
        ay_D_E = self._calculate_D_E(ay_Z_E=ay_Z_E, b_print=b_print )
        #ay_D_E = ay_A_E * (1.0 - ay_A_E)

        # Get the 2 delta matrices for the outermost layer (only layer E has 2 delta-matrices)
        ay_delta_E, ay_delta_out_E = self._calculate_delta_E(ay_y_enc=ay_y_enc, ay_A_E=ay_A_E, ay_D_E=ay_D_E, b_print=b_print) 
        
        # add the matrices to their lists ; li_delta_out gets only one element 
        idxE = self._n_total_layers - 1
        li_delta_out[idxE] = ay_delta_out_E # this happens only once
        li_delta[idxE]     = ay_delta_E
        li_D[idxE]         = ay_D_E
        li_grad[idxE]      = None    # On the outermost layer there is no gradient ! 
        
        tea = time.perf_counter(); ta = tea - tsa; print("\nta-bp", "%10.8f"%ta)
        
        # Loop over all layers in reverse direction 
        # ******************************************
        # index range of target layers N in BW direction (starting with E-1 => 4 layers -> layer 2))
        range_N_bw_layer = reversed(range(0, self._n_total_layers-1))   # must be -1 as the last element is not taken 
        
        # loop over layers 
        tsb = time.perf_counter() 
        for N in range_N_bw_layer:
            
            # Back Propagation operations between layers N+1 and N 
            # *******************************************************
            # this method handles the special treatment of bias nodes in Z_in, too
            tsib = time.perf_counter() 
            ay_delta_N, ay_D_N, ay_grad_N = self._bw_prop_Np1_to_N( N=N, li_Z_in=li_Z_in, li_A_out=li_A_out, li_delta=li_delta, b_print=False )
            teib = time.perf_counter(); tib = teib - tsib; print("N = ", N, " tib-bp", "%10.8f"%tib)
            
            # add matrices to their lists 
            #tsic = time.perf_counter() 
            li_delta[N] = ay_delta_N
            li_D[N]     = ay_D_N
            li_grad[N]= ay_grad_N
            #teic = time.perf_counter(); tic = teic - tsic; print("\nN = ", N, " tic = ", "%10.8f"%tic)
        teb = time.perf_counter(); tb = teb - tsb; print("tb-bp", "%10.8f"%tb)
       
        return

 

Typical timing results are:

ta-bp 0.00007112
N =  2  tib-bp 0.00025399
N =  1  tib-bp 0.00051683
N =  0  tib-bp 0.00035941
tb-bp 0.00126436

ta-bp 0.00007492
N =  2  tib-bp 0.00027644
N =  1  tib-bp 0.00090043
N =  0  tib-bp 0.00036728
tb-bp 0.00168378

We see that the CPU consumption of "_bw_prop_Np1_to_N()" should be analyzed in detail. It is relatively time consuming at every layer, but especially at layer L1. (The list adds are insignificant.)
What does this method presently look like?

    ''' -- Method to calculate the BW-propagated delta-matrix and the gradient matrix to/for layer N '''
    def _bw_prop_Np1_to_N(self, N, li_Z_in, li_A_out, li_delta, b_print=False):
        '''
        BW-error-propagation between layer N+1 and N 
        Version 1.5 - partially accelerated 

        Inputs: 
            li_Z_in:  List of input Z-matrices on all layers - values were calculated during FW-propagation
            li_A_out: List of output A-matrices - values were calculated during FW-propagation
            li_delta: List of delta-matrices - values for outermost ölayer E to layer N+1 should exist 
        
        Returns: 
            ay_delta_N - delta-matrix of layer N (required in subsequent steps)
            ay_D_N     - derivative matrix for the activation function on layer N 
            ay_grad_N  - matrix with gradient elements of the cost fnction with respect to the weights on layer N 
        '''
        
        # Prepare required quantities - and add bias neuron to ay_Z_in 
        # ****************************
        
        # Weight matrix meddling between layers N and N+1 
        ay_W_N = self._li_w[N]

        # delta-matrix of layer N+1
        ay_delta_Np1 = li_delta[N+1]

        # fetch output value saved during FW propagation 
        ay_A_N = li_A_out[N]

        # Optimization V1.5 ! 
        if N > 0: 
            
            #ts=time.perf_counter()
            ay_Z_N = li_Z_in[N]
            # !!! Add intermediate row (for bias) to Z_N !!!
            ay_Z_N = self._add_bias_neuron_to_layer(ay_Z_N, 'row')
            #te=time.perf_counter(); t1 = te - ts; print("\nBW t1 = ", t1, " N = ", N) 
        
            # Derivative matrix for the activation function (with extra bias node row)
            # ********************
            #    can only be calculated now as we need the z-values
            #ts=time.perf_counter()
            ay_D_N = self._calculate_D_N(ay_Z_N)
            #te=time.perf_counter(); t2 = te - ts; print("\nBW t2 = ", t2, " N = ", N) 
            
            # Propagate delta
            # **************

            # intermediate delta 
            # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            #ts=time.perf_counter()
            ay_delta_w_N = ay_W_N.T.dot(ay_delta_Np1)
            #te=time.perf_counter(); t3 = te - ts; print("\nBW t3 = ", t3) 
            
            # final delta 
            # ~~~~~~~~~~~
            #ts=time.perf_counter()
            ay_delta_N = ay_delta_w_N * ay_D_N
            
            # Orig reduce dimension again
            # **************************** 
            ay_delta_N = ay_delta_N[1:, :]
            #te=time.perf_counter(); t4 = te - ts; print("\nBW t4 = ", t4) 
            
        else: 
            ay_delta_N = None
            ay_D_N = None
        
        # Calculate gradient
        # ********************
        #ts=time.perf_counter()
        ay_grad_N = np.dot(ay_delta_Np1, ay_A_N.T)
        #te=time.perf_counter(); t5 = te - ts; print("\nBW t5 = ", t5) 
        
        # regularize gradient (!!!! without adding bias nodes in the L1, L2 sums) 
        #ts=time.perf_counter()
        if self._lambda2_reg > 0: 
            ay_grad_N[:, 1:] += self._li_w[N][:, 1:] * self._lambda2_reg 
        if self._lambda1_reg > 0: 
            ay_grad_N[:, 1:] += np.sign(self._li_w[N][:, 1:]) * self._lambda1_reg 
        #te=time.perf_counter(); t6 = te - ts; print("\nBW t6 = ", t6) 
        
        return ay_delta_N, ay_D_N, ay_grad_N

 
Timing data for a batch-size of 500 are:

N =  2
BW t1 =  0.0001169009999557602  N =  2
BW t2 =  0.00035331499998392246  N =  2
BW t3 =  0.00018078099992635543
BW t4 =  0.00010234199999104021
BW t5 =  9.928200006470433e-05
BW t6 =  2.4267000071631628e-05
N =  2  tib-bp 0.00124414

N =  1
BW t1 =  0.0004323499999827618  N =  1
BW t2 =  0.000781415999881574  N =  1
BW t3 =  4.2077999978573644e-05
BW t4 =  0.00022921000004316738
BW t5 =  9.376399998473062e-05
BW t6 =  0.00012183700005152787
N =  1  tib-bp 0.00216281

N =  0
BW t5 =  0.0004289769999559212
BW t6 =  0.00015404999999191205
N =  0  tib-bp 0.00075249
....
N =  2
BW t1 =  0.00012802800006284087  N =  2
BW t2 =  0.00034988200013685855  N =  2
BW t3 =  0.0001854429999639251
BW t4 =  0.00010359299994888715
BW t5 =  0.00010210400000687514
BW t6 =  2.4010999823076418e-05
N =  2  tib-bp 0.00125854

N =  1
BW t1 =  0.0004407169999467442  N =  1
BW t2 =  0.0007845899999665562  N =  1
BW t3 =  0.00025684100000944454
BW t4 =  0.00012409999999363208
BW t5 =  0.00010345399982725212
BW t6 =  0.00012994100006835652
N =  1  tib-bp 0.00221321

N =  0
BW t5 =  0.00044504700008474174
BW t6 =  0.00016473000005134963
N =  0  tib-bp 0.00071442

....
N =  2
BW t1 =  0.000292730999944979  N =  2
BW t2 =  0.001102525000078458  N =  2
BW t3 =  2.9429999813146424e-05
BW t4 =  8.547999868824263e-06
BW t5 =  3.554099998837046e-05
BW t6 =  2.5041999833774753e-05
N =  2  tib-bp 0.00178565

N =  1
BW t1 =  3.143399999316898e-05  N =  1
BW t2 =  0.0006720640001276479  N =  1
BW t3 =  5.4785999964224175e-05
BW t4 =  9.756200006449944e-05
BW t5 =  0.0001605449999715347
BW t6 =  1.8391000139672542e-05
N =  1  tib-bp 0.00147566

N =  0
BW t5 =  0.0003641810001226986
BW t6 =  6.338999992294703e-05
N =  0  tib-bp 0.00046542

 
It seems that we should care about t1, t2, t3 for hidden layers and maybe about t5 at layers L1/L0.

However, for a batch-size of 15000 things look a bit different:

N =  2
BW t1 =  0.0005776280000304723  N =  2
BW t2 =  0.004995969999981753  N =  2
BW t3 =  0.0003165199999557444
BW t4 =  0.0005244750000201748
BW t5 =  0.000518499999998312
BW t6 =  2.2458999978880456e-05
N =  2  tib-bp 0.00736144

N =  1
BW t1 =  0.0010120430000029046  N =  1
BW t2 =  0.010797029000002567  N =  1
BW t3 =  0.0005006920000028003
BW t4 =  0.0008704929999794331
BW t5 =  0.0010805200000163495
BW t6 =  3.0326000000968634e-05
N =  1  tib-bp 0.01463436

N =  0
BW t5 =  0.006987539000022025
BW t6 =  0.00023552499999368592
N =  0  tib-bp 0.00730959


N =  2
BW t1 =  0.0006299790000525718  N =  2
BW t2 =  0.005081416999985322  N =  2
BW t3 =  0.00018547400003399162
BW t4 =  0.0005970070000103078
BW t5 =  0.000564008000026206
BW t6 =  2.3311000006742688e-05
N =  2  tib-bp 0.00737899

N =  1
BW t1 =  0.0009376909999900818  N =  1
BW t2 =  0.010650266999959968  N =  1
BW t3 =  0.0005232729999988806
BW t4 =  0.0009100700000317374
BW t5 =  0.0011237720000281115
BW t6 =  0.00016643800000792908
N =  1  tib-bp 0.01466144

N =  0
BW t5 =  0.006987463000029948
BW t6 =  0.00023978600000873485
N =  0  tib-bp 0.00734308

 
For big batch-sizes "t2" dominates everything. It seems that we have found another code area which causes the trouble with big batch-sizes which we already observed before!

What operations do the different CPU times stand for?

To keep an overview without looking into the code again, I briefly summarize which operations cause which of the measured time differences:

  • "t1" - which contributes for small batch-sizes stands for adding a bias neuron to the input data Z_in at each layer.
  • "t2" - which is by far dominant for big batch sizes stands for calculating the derivative of the output/activation function (in our case of the sigmoid function) at the various layers.
  • "t3" - which contributes at some layers stands for a dot()-matrix multiplication with the transposed weight-matrix,
  • "t4" - covers an element-wise matrix-multiplication,
  • "t5" - contributes at the BW-transition from layer L1 to L0 and covers the matrix multiplication there (including the full output matrix with the bias neurons at L0)

Use the output values calculated at each layer during FW-propagation!

Why does the calculation of the derivative of the sigmoid function take so much time? Answer: Because I coded it stupidly! Just look at it:

    ''' -- Method to calculate the matrix with the derivative values of the output function at outermost layer '''
    def _calculate_D_N(self, ay_Z_N, b_print= False):
        '''
        This method calculates and returns the D-matrix for the outermost layer
        The D matrix contains derivatives of the output function with respect to local input "z_j" at outermost nodes. 
        
        Returns
        ------
        ay_D_E:    Matrix with derivative values of the output function 
                   with respect to local z_j valus at the nodes of the outermost layer E
        Note: This is a 2-dim matrix over layer nodes and training samples of the mini-batch
        '''
        if self._my_out_func == 'sigmoid':
            ay_D_E = self._D_sigmoid(ay_Z = ay_Z_N)
        
        else:
            print("The derivative for output function " + self._my_out_func + " is not known yet!" )
            sys.exit()
        
        return ay_D_E

    ''' -- method for the derivative of the sigmoid function-- '''
    def _D_sigmoid(self, ay_Z):
        ''' 
        Derivative of sigmoid function with respect to Z-values 
        - works via expit element-wise on matrices
        Input:  Z - Matrix with Input values for the activation function Phi() = sigmoid() 
        Output: D - Matrix with derivative values 
        '''
        S_Z = self._sigmoid(ay_Z)
        return S_Z * (1.0 - S_Z)

 
We first call an intermediate function which then directs us to the right function for a chosen activation function. Well meant: So far, we use only the sigmoid function, but it could e.g. also be the relu() or tanh()-function. So, we did what we did for the sake of generalization. But we did it badly because of two reasons:

  • We did not keep up a function call pattern which we introduced in the FW-propagation.
  • The calculation of the derivative is inefficient.

The first point is a minor one: During FW-propagation we called the right (!) activation function, i.e. the one we choose by input parameters to our ANN-object, by an indirect call. Why not do it the same way here? We would avoid an intermediate function call and keep up a pattern. Actually, we prepared the necessary definitions already in the __init__()-function.

The second point is relevant for performance: The derivative function produces the correct results for a given "ay_Z", but this is totally inefficient in our BW-situation. The code repeats a really expensive operation which we have already performed during FW-propagation: calling sigmoid(ay_Z) to get "A_out"-values per layer then. We even put the A_out-values [=sigmoid(ay_Z_in)] per layer and batch (!) with some foresight into a list in "li_A_out[]" at that point of the code (see the FW-propagation code discussed in the last article).

So, of course, we should use these "A_out"-values now in the BW-steps! No further comment .... you see what we need to do.

Hint: Actually, also other activation functions "act(Z)" like e.g. the "tanh()"-function have derivatives which depend on on "A=act(Z)", only. So, we should provide Z and A via an interface to the derivative function and let the respective functions take what it needs.
But, my insight into my own dumbness gets worse.

Eliminate the bias neuron operation!

Why did we need a bias-neuron operation? Answer: We do not need it! It was only introduced due to insufficient cleverness. In the article

A simple Python program for an ANN to cover the MNIST dataset – VII – EBP related topics and obstacles

I have already indicated that we use the function for adding a row of bias-neurons again only to compensate one deficit: The matrix of the derivative values did not fit the shape of the weight matrix for the required element-wise operations. However, I also said: There probably is an alternative.

Well, let me make a long story short: The steps behind t1 up to t4 to calculate "ay_delta_N" for the present layer L_N (with N>=1) can be compressed into two relatively simple lines:

ay_delta_w_N = ay_W_N.T.dot(ay_delta_Np1)
ay_delta_N = ay_delta_w_N[1:,:] * ay_A_N[1:,:] * (1.0 - ay_A_N[1:,:]); ay_D_N = None;

No bias back and forth corrections! Instead we use simple slicing to compensate for our weight matrices with a shape covering an extra row of bias node output. No Z-based derivative calculation; no sigmoid(Z)-call. The last statement is only required to support the present output interface. Think it through in detail; the shortcut does not cause any harm.

Code change for tests

Before we bring the code into a new consolidated form with re-coded methods let us see what we gain by just changing the code to the two lines given above in terms of CPU time and performance. Our function "_bw_prop_Np1_to_N()" then gets reduced to the following lines:

    ''' -- Method to calculate the BW-propagated delta-matrix and the gradient matrix to/for layer N '''
    def _bw_prop_Np1_to_N(self, N, li_Z_in, li_A_out, li_delta, b_print=False):
        
        # Weight matrix meddling between layers N and N+1 
        ay_W_N = self._li_w[N]
        ay_delta_Np1 = li_delta[N+1]

        # fetch output value saved during FW propagation 
        ay_A_N = li_A_out[N]

        # Optimization from previous version  
        if N > 0: 
            #ts=time.perf_counter()
            ay_Z_N = li_Z_in[N]
            
            # Propagate delta
            # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            ay_delta_w_N = ay_W_N.T.dot(ay_delta_Np1)
            ay_delta_N = ay_delta_w_N[1:,:] * ay_A_N[1:,:] * (1.0 - ay_A_N[1:,:])
            ay_D_N = None; 
            
        else: 
            ay_delta_N = None
            ay_D_N = None
        
        # Calculate gradient
        # ********************
        ay_grad_N = np.dot(ay_delta_Np1, ay_A_N.T)
        
        if self._lambda2_reg > 0: 
            ay_grad_N[:, 1:] += self._li_w[N][:, 1:] * self._lambda2_reg 
        if self._lambda1_reg > 0: 
            ay_grad_N[:, 1:] += np.sign(self._li_w[N][:, 1:]) * self._lambda1_reg 
        
        return ay_delta_N, ay_D_N, ay_grad_N

 

Performance gain

What run times do we get with this setting? We perform our typical test runs over 35 epochs - but this time for two different batch-sizes:

Batch-size = 500

 
------------------
Starting epoch 35

Time_CPU for epoch 35 0.2169024469985743
Total CPU-time:  7.52385053600301

learning rate =  0.0009994051838157095

total costs of training set   =  -1.0
rel. reg. contrib. to total costs =  -1.0

total costs of last mini_batch   =  65.43618
rel. reg. contrib. to batch costs =  0.12302863

mean abs weight at L0 :  -10.0
mean abs weight at L1 :  -10.0
mean abs weight at L2 :  -10.0

avg total error of last mini_batch =  0.00758
presently batch averaged accuracy   =  0.99272

-------------------
Total training Time_CPU:  7.5257336139984545

Not bad! We became faster by around 2 secs compared to the results of the last article! This is close to an improvement of 20%.

But what about big batch sizes? Here is the result for a relatively big batch size:

Batch-size = 20000

------------------
Starting epoch 35

Time_CPU for epoch 35 0.2019189490019926
Total CPU-time:  6.716679593999288

learning rate =  9.994051838157101e-05

total costs of training set   =  -1.0
rel. reg. contrib. to total costs =  -1.0

total costs of last mini_batch   =  13028.141
rel. reg. contrib. to batch costs =  0.00021923862

mean abs weight at L0 :  -10.0
mean abs weight at L1 :  -10.0
mean abs weight at L2 :  -10.0

avg total error of last mini_batch =  0.04389
presently batch averaged accuracy   =  0.95602

-------------------
Total training Time_CPU:  6.716954112998792

Again an acceleration by roughly 2 secs - corresponding to an improvement of 22%!

In both cases I took the best result out of three runs.

Conclusion

Enough for today! We have done a major step with regard to performance optimization also in the BW-propagation. It remains to re-code the derivative calculation in form which uses indirect function calls to remain flexible. I shall give you the code in the next article.

We learned today is that we, of course, should reuse the results of the FW-propagation and that it is indeed a good investment to save the output data per layer in some Python list or other suitable structures during FW-propagation. We also saw again that a sufficiently efficient bias neuron treatment can be achieved by a more efficient solution than provisioned so far.

All in all we have meanwhile gained more than a factor of 6.5 in performance since we started with optimization. Our new standard values are 7.3 secs and 6.8 secs for 35 epochs on MNIST data and batch sizes of 500 and 20000, respectively.

We have reached the order of what Keras and TF2 can deliver on a CPU for big batch sizes. For small batch sizes we are already faster. This indicates that we have done no bad job so far ...

In the next article we shall look a bit at the matrix operations and evaluate further optimization options.

MLP, Numpy, TF2 – performance issues – Step II – bias neurons, F- or C- contiguous arrays and performance

Welcome back, my friends of MLP coding. In the last article we gave the code developed in the article series

A simple Python program for an ANN to cover the MNIST dataset – I – a starting point

a first performance boost by two simple measures:

  • We set all major arrays to the "numpy.float32" data type instead of the default "float64".
  • In addition we eliminated superfluous parts of the backward [BW] propagation between the first hidden layer and the input layer.

This brought us already down to around

11 secs for 35 epochs on the MNIST dataset, a batch-size of 500 and an accuracy around 99 % on the training set

This was close to what Keras (and TF2) delivered for the same batch size. It marks the baseline for further performance improvements of our MLP code.

Can we get better than 11 secs for 35 epochs? The answer is: Yes, we can - but only in small steps. So, do not expect any gigantic performance leaps for the training loop itself. But, there was and is also our observation that there is no significant acceleration with growing batch sizes over 1000 - but with Keras we saw such an acceleration.

In this article I shall shortly discuss why we should care about big batch sizes - at least in combination with FW-propagation. Afterwards I want to draw your attention to a specific code segment of our MLP. We shall see that an astonishingly simple array operation dominates the CPU time of our straight forward coded FW propagation. Especially for big batch sizes!

Actually, it is an operation I would never have guessed to be such an an obstacle to efficiency if somebody had asked me. As a naive Python beginner I had to learn that the arrangement of arrays in the computer's memory sometimes have an impact - especially when big arrays are involved. To get to this generally useful insight we will have to invest some effort into performance tests of some specific Numpy operations on arrays. The results give us some options for possible performance improvements; but in the end we shall circumvent the impediment all together.

The discussion will indicate that we should change our treatment of bias neurons fundamentally. We shall only go a preliminary step in this direction. This step will give us already a 15% improvement regarding the training time. But even more important, it will reward us with a significant improvement - by a factor > 2.5 - with respect to the FW-propagation of the complete training and test data sets, i.e. for the FW-propagation of "batches" with big sizes (60000 or 10000 samples).

"np." abbreviates the "Numpy" library below. I shall sometimes speak of our 2-dimensional Numpy "arrays" as "matrices" in an almost synonymous way. See, however, one of the links at the bottom of the article for the subtle differences of related data types. For the time being we can safely ignore the mathematical differences between matrices, stacks of matrices and tensors. But we should have a clear understanding of the profound difference between the "*"-operation and the "np.dot()"-operation on 2-dimensional arrays.

Why are big batch sizes relevant?

There are several reasons why we should care about an efficient treatment of big batches. I name a few, only:

  • Numpy operations on bigger matrices may become more efficient on systems with multiple CPUs, CPU cores or multiple GPUs.
  • Big batch sizes together with a relatively small learning rate will lead to a smoother descent path on the cost hyperplane. Could become important in some intricate real life scenarios beyond MNIST.
  • We should test the achieved accuracy on evaluation and test datasets during training. This data sets may have a much bigger size than the training batches.

The last point addresses the problem of overfitting: We may approach a minimum of the loss function of the training data set, but may leave the minimum of the cost function (and of related errors) of the test data set at some point. Therefore, we should check the accuracy on evaluation and test data sets already during the training phase. This requires the FW-propagation of such sets - preferably in one sweep. I.e. we talk about the propagation of really big batches with 10000 samples or more.

How do we measure the accuracy? Regarding the training set we gather averaged errors of batches during the training run and determine the related accuracy at the end of every printout period via an average over all batches: The average is taken over the absolute values of the difference between the sigmoidal output and the one-hot encoded target values of the batch samples. Note that this will give us slightly different values than tests where Numpy.argmax() is applied to the output first.

We can verify the accuracy also on the complete training and test data sets. Often we will do so after each and every epoch. Then we involve argmax(), by the way to get numbers in terms of correctly classified samples.

We saw that the forward [FW] propagation of the complete training data set "X_train" in one sweep requires a substantial (!) amount of CPU time in the present state of our code. When we perform such a test at each and every epoch on the training set the pure training time is prolonged by roughly a factor 1.75. As said: In real live scenarios we would rather or in addition perform full accuracy tests on prepared evaluation and test data sets - but they are big "batches" as well.

So, one relevant question is: Can we reduce the time required for a forward [FW] propagation of complete training and test data sets in one vectorized sweep?

Which operation dominates the CPU time of our present MLP forward propagation?

The present code for the FW-propagation of a mini-batch through my MLP comprises the following statements - enriched below by some lines to measure the required CPU-time:

 
    ''' -- Method to handle FW propagation for a mini-batch --'''
    def _fw_propagation(self, li_Z_in, li_A_out):
        ''' 
        Parameter: 
        li_Z_in :   list of input values at all layers  - li_Z_in[0] is already filled - 
                    other elemens to to be filled during FW-propagation
        li_A_out:   list of output values at all layers - to be filled during FW-propagation
        '''
        # index range for all layers 
        #    Note that we count from 0 (0=>L0) to E L(=>E) / 
        #    Careful: during BW-propagation we need a clear indexing of the lists filled during FW-propagation
        ilayer = range(0, self._n_total_layers-1)
        
        # propagation loop
        # ***************
        for il in ilayer:
            
            # Step 1: Take input of last layer and apply activation function 
            # ******
            ts=time.perf_counter()
            if il == 0: 
                A_out_il = li_Z_in[il] # L0: activation function is identity !!!
            else: 
                A_out_il = self._act_func( li_Z_in[il] ) # use defined activation function (e.g. sigmoid) 
            te=time.perf_counter(); ta = te - ts; print("\nta = ", ta, " shape = ", A_out_il.shape, " type = ", A_out_il.dtype, " A_out flags = ", A_out_il.flags) 
            
            # Step 2: Add bias node
            # ****** 
            ts=time.perf_counter()
            A_out_il = self._add_bias_neuron_to_layer(A_out_il, 'row')
            li_A_out[il] = A_out_il
            te=time.perf_counter(); tb = te - ts; print("tb = ", tb, " shape = ", A_out_il.shape, " type = ", A_out_il.dtype) 
            
            # Step 3: Propagate by matrix operation
            # ****** 
            ts=time.perf_counter()
            Z_in_ilp1 = np.dot(self._li_w[il], A_out_il) 
            li_Z_in[il+1] = Z_in_ilp1
            te=time.perf_counter(); tc = te - ts; print("tc = ", tc, " shape = ", li_Z_in[il+1].shape, " type = ", li_Z_in[il+1].dtype) 
        
        # treatment of the last layer 
        # ***************************
        ts=time.perf_counter()
        il = il + 1
        A_out_il = self._out_func( li_Z_in[il] ) # use the defined output function (e.g. sigmoid)  
        li_A_out[il] = A_out_il
        te=time.perf_counter(); tf = te - ts; print("\ntf = ", tf) 
        
        return None

 
The attentive reader notices that I also included statements to print out information about the shape and so called "flags" of the involved arrays.

I give you some typical CPU times for the MNIST dataset first. Characteristics of the test runs were:

  • data were taken during the first two epochs;
  • the batch-size was 10000; i.e. we processed 6 batches per epoch;
  • "ta, tb, tc, tf" are representative data for a single batch comprising 10000 MNIST samples.

Averaged timing results for such batches are:

Layer L0
ta =  2.6999987312592566e-07
tb =  0.013209896002081223 
tc =  0.004847299001994543
Layer L1
ta =  0.005858420001459308
tb =  0.0005839099976583384
tc =  0.00040631899901200086
Layer L2
ta =  0.0025550600003043655
tb =  0.00026626299950294197
tc =  0.00022965300013311207
Layer3 
tf =  0.0008438359982392285

Such CPU time data vary of course a bit (2%) with the background activity on my machine and with the present batch, but the basic message remains the same. When I first saw it I could not believe it:

Adding a bias-neuron to the input layer obviously dominated the CPU-consumption during forward propagation. Not the matrix multiplication at the input layer L0!

I should add at this point that the problem increases with growing batch size! (We shall see this later in elementary test, too). This means that propagating the complete training or test dataset for accuracy check at each epoch will cost us an enormous amount of CPU time - as we have indeed seen in the last article. Performing a full propagation for an accuracy test at the end of each and every epoch increased the total CPU time roughly by a factor of 1.68 (19 sec vs. 11.33 secs for 35 epochs; see the last article).

Adding a row of constant input values of bias neurons

I first wanted to know, of course, whether my specific method of adding a bias neuron to the A-output matrix at each layer really was so expensive. My naive approach - following a suggestion in a book of S. Rashka, by the way - was:

def add_bias_neuron_to_layer(A, how='column'):
    if how == 'column':
        A_new = np.ones((A.shape[0], A.shape[1]+1), dtype=np.float32)
        A_new[:, 1:] = A
    elif how == 'row':
        A_new = np.ones((A.shape[0]+1, A.shape[1]), dtype=np.float32)
        A_new[1:, :] = A
    return A_new    

What we do here is to create a new array which is bigger by one row and fit the original array into it. Seemed to be a clever approach at the time of coding (and actually it is faster than using np.vstack or np.hstack). The operation is different from directly adding a row to the existing input array explicitly, but it still requires a lot of row operations.

As we have seen I call this function in "_fw_propagation()" by

A_out_il = self._add_bias_neuron_to_layer(A_out_il, 'row')

"A_out_il" is the transposition of a slice of the original X_train array. The slice in our test case for MNIST had a shape of (10000, 784).
This means that we talk about a matrix with shape (784, 10000) in the case of the MNIST dataset before adding the bias neuron and a shape of (785, 10000) after. I.e. we add a row with 10000 constant entries at the beginning of our transposed slice. Note also that the function returns a new array in memory.

Thus, our approach contains two possibly costly operations. Why did we do such a strange thing in the first place?

Well, when we coded the MLP it seemed to be a good idea to include the fact that we have bias neurons directly in the definition of the weight matrices and their shapes. So, we need(ed) to fit our input matrices at the layers to the defined shape of the weight matrices. As we see it now, this is a questionable strategy regarding performance. But, well, let us not attack something at the very center of the MLP code for all layers (except the output layer) at this point in time. We shall do this in a forthcoming article.

A factor of 3 ??

To understand my performance problem a bit better, I did the following test in a Jupyter cell:

''' Method to add values for a bias neuron to A_out  all with C-cont. arrays '''
def add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C(A, how='column'):
    if how == 'column':
        A_new = np.ones((A.shape[0], A.shape[1]+1), dtype=np.float32)
        A_new[:, 1:] = A
    elif how == 'row':
        A_new = np.ones((A.shape[0]+1, A.shape[1]), dtype=np.float32)
        A_new[1:, :] = A
    return A_new    
input_shape =(784, 10000)
ay_inpC = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shape)*2.0, dtype=np.float32)
tx = time.perf_counter()
ay_inpCb = add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C(ay_inpC, 'row')
li_A.append(ay_inpCb)
ty = time.perf_counter(); t_biasC = ty - tx; 
print("\n bias time = ", "%10.8f"%t_biasC)
print("shape_biased = ", ay_inpCb.shape)

to get:

 bias time  =  0.00423444

Same batch-size, but substantially faster - by roughly a factor of 3! - compared to what my MLP code delivered. Actually the timing data varied a bit between 0.038 and 0.045 (with an average at 0.0042) when repeating the run. To exclude any problems with calling the function from within a Python class I repeated the same test inside the class "MyANN" during FW-propagation - with the same result (as it should be; see the first link at the end of this article).

So: Applying one and the same function on a randomly filled array was much faster than applying it on my Numpy (input) array "A_out_il" (with the same shape). ????

C- and F-contiguous arrays

It took me a while to find the reason: "A_out_il" is the result of a matrix transposition. In Numpy this corresponds to a certain view on the original array data - but this still has major consequences for the handling of the data:

A 2 dimensional array or matrix is an ordered addressable sequence of data in the computer's memory. Now, if you yourself had to program an array representation in memory on a basic level you would - due to performance reasons - make a choice whether you arrange data row-wise or column-wise. And you would program functions for array-operations with your chosen "order" in mind!

Actually, if you google a bit you find that the two ways of arranging array or matrix data are both well established. In connection with Numpy we speak of either a C-contiguous order or a F-contiguous order of the array data. In the first case (C) data are stored and addressed row by row and can be read efficiently this way, in the other (F) case data are arranged column by column. By the way: The "C" refers to the C-language, the "F" to Fortran.

On a Linux system Numpy normally creates and operates with C-contiguous arrays - except when you ask Numpy explicitly to work differently. Quite many array related functions, therefore, have a parameter "order", which you can set to either 'C' or 'F'.

Now, let us assume that we have a C-contiguous array. What happens when we transpose it - or look at it in a transposed way? Well, logically it then becomes F-contiguous! Then our "A_out_il" would be seen as F-contiguous. Could this in turn have an impact on performance? Well, I create "A_out_il" in method "_handle_mini_batch()" of my MyANN-class via

        # Step 0: List of indices for data records in the present mini-batch
        # ******
        ay_idx_batch = self._ay_mini_batches[num_batch]
        
        # Step 1: Special preparation of the Z-input to the MLP's input Layer L0
        # ******
        # Layer L0: Fill in the input vector for the ANN's input layer L0 
        li_Z_in_layer[0] = self._X_train[ay_idx_batch] # numpy arrays can be indexed by an array of integers
        li_Z_in_layer[0]  = li_Z_in_layer[0].T
        ...
        ...

Hm, pretty simple. But then, what happens if we perform our rather special adding of the bias-neuron row-wise, as we logically are forced to? Remember, the array originally had a shape of (10000, 784) and after transposing a shape of (784, 10000), i.e. the columns then represent the samples of the mini-batch. Well, instead of inserting a row of 10000 data contiguously into memory in one swipe into a C-contiguous array we must hop to the end of each contiguous column of the F-contiguous array "A_out_il" in memory and add one element there. Even if you would optimize it there are many more addresses and steps involved. Can't become efficient ....

How can we see, which order an array or view onto it follows? We just have to print its "flags". And I indeed got:

flags li_Z_in[0] =    
  C_CONTIGUOUS : False
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : False
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False

Additional tests with Jupyter

Let us extend the tests of our function in the Jupyter cell in the following way to cover a variety of options related to our method of adding bias neurons:

 
# The bias neuron problem 
# ************************
import numpy as np
import scipy
from scipy.special import expit 
import time

''' Method to add values for a bias neuron to A_out - by creating a new C-cont. array '''
def add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C(A, how='column'):
    if how == 'column':
        A_new = np.ones((A.shape[0], A.shape[1]+1), dtype=np.float32)
        A_new[:, 1:] = A
    elif how == 'row':
        A_new = np.ones((A.shape[0]+1, A.shape[1]), dtype=np.float32)
        A_new[1:, :] = A
    return A_new    

''' Method to add values for a bias neuron to A_out - by creating a new F-cont. array '''
def add_bias_neuron_to_layer_F(A, how='column'):
    if how == 'column':
        A_new = np.ones((A.shape[0], A.shape[1]+1), order='F', dtype=np.float32)
        A_new[:, 1:] = A
    elif how == 'row':
        A_new = np.ones((A.shape[0]+1, A.shape[1]), order='F', dtype=np.float32)
        A_new[1:, :] = A
    return A_new    

rg_j = range(50)

li_A = []

t_1 = 0.0; t_2 = 0.0; 
t_3 = 0.0; t_4 = 0.0; 
t_5 = 0.0; t_6 = 0.0; 
t_7 = 0.0; t_8 = 0.0; 

# two types of input shapes 
input_shape1 =(784, 10000)
input_shape2 =(10000, 784)
    

for j in rg_j: 
    
    # For test 1: C-cont. array with shape (784, 10000) 
    # in a MLP programm delivering X_train as (10000, 784) we would have to (re-)create it 
    # explicitly with the C-order (np.copy or np.asarray)
    ay_inpC = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shape1)*2.0, order='C', dtype=np.float32)
    
    # For test 2: C-cont. array with shape (10000, 784) as it typically is given by a slice of the 
    # original X_train  
    ay_inpC2 = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shape2)*2.0, order='C', dtype=np.float32)
    
    # For tests 3 and 4: transposition - this corresponds to the MLP code   
    ay_inpF = ay_inpC2.T
    
    # For test 5: The original X_train or mini-batch data are somehow given in F-cont.form, 
    # then inpF3 below would hopefully be in C-cont. form        
    ay_inpF2 = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shape2)*2.0, order='F', dtype=np.float32)
    
    # For test 6 
    ay_inpF3 = ay_inpF2.T

    # Test 1:  C-cont. input to add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C - with a shape that fits already
    # ******
    tx = time.perf_counter()
    ay_Cb = add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C(ay_inpC, 'row')
    li_A.append(ay_Cb)
    ty = time.perf_counter(); t_1 += ty - tx; 
    
    # Test 2:  Standard C-cont. input to add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C - but col.-operation due to shape 
    # ******
    tx = time.perf_counter()
    ay_C2b = add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C(ay_inpC2, 'column')
    li_A.append(ay_C2b)
    ty = time.perf_counter(); t_2 += ty - tx; 
    

    # Test 3:  F-cont. input to add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C (!) - but row-operation due to shape 
    # ******   will give us a C-cont. output array which later is used in np.dot() on the left side
    tx = time.perf_counter()
    ay_C3b = add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C(ay_inpF, 'row')
    li_A.append(ay_C3b)
    ty = time.perf_counter(); t_3 += ty - tx; 

    
    # Test 4:  F-cont. input to add_bias_neuron_to_layer_F (!) - but row-operation due to shape 
    # ******   will give us a F-cont. output array which later is used in np.dot() on the left side
    tx = time.perf_counter()
    ay_F4b = add_bias_neuron_to_layer_F(ay_inpF, 'row')
    li_A.append(ay_F4b)
    ty = time.perf_counter(); t_4 += ty - tx; 

    
    # Test 5:  F-cont. input to add_bias_neuron_to_layer_F (!) - but col-operation due to shape 
    # ******   will give us a F-cont. output array with wrong shape for weight matrix 
    tx = time.perf_counter()
    ay_F5b = add_bias_neuron_to_layer_F(ay_inpF2, 'column')
    li_A.append(ay_F5b)
    ty = time.perf_counter(); t_5 += ty - tx; 
    
    # Test 6:  C-cont. input to add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C (!) -  row-operation due to shape 
    # ******   will give us a C-cont. output array with wrong shape for weight matrix 
    tx = time.perf_counter()
    ay_C6b = add_bias_neuron_to_layer_C(ay_inpF3, 'row')
    li_A.append(ay_C6b)
    ty = time.perf_counter(); t_6 += ty - tx; 

    # Test 7:  C-cont. input to add_bias_neuron_to_layer_F (!) -  row-operation due to shape 
    # ******   will give us a F-cont. output array with wrong shape for weight matrix 
    tx = time.perf_counter()
    ay_F7b = add_bias_neuron_to_layer_F(ay_inpC2, 'column')
    li_A.append(ay_F7b)
    ty = time.perf_counter(); t_7 += ty - tx; 
    
    
print("\nTest 1: nbias time C-cont./row with add_.._C() => ", "%10.8f"%t_1)
print("shape_ay_Cb = ", ay_Cb.shape, " flags = \n", ay_Cb.flags)

print("\nTest 2: nbias time C-cont./col with add_.._C() => ", "%10.8f"%t_2)
print("shape of ay_C2b = ", ay_C2b.shape, " flags = \n", ay_C2b.flags)

print("\nTest 3: nbias time F-cont./row with add_.._C() => ", "%10.8f"%t_3)
print("shape of ay_C3b = ", ay_C3b.shape, " flags = \n", ay_C3b.flags)

print("\nTest 4: nbias time F-cont./row with add_.._F() => ", "%10.8f"%t_4)
print("shape of ay_F4b = ", ay_F4b.shape, " flags = \n", ay_F4b.flags)

print("\nTest 5: nbias time F-cont./col with add_.._F() => ", "%10.8f"%t_5)
print("shape of ay_F5b = ", ay_F5b.shape, " flags = \n", ay_F5b.flags)

print("\nTest 6: nbias time C-cont./row with add_.._C() => ", "%10.8f"%t_6)
print("shape of ay_C6b = ", ay_C6b.shape, " flags = \n", ay_C6b.flags)

print("\nTest 7: nbias time C-cont./col with add_.._F() => ", "%10.8f"%t_7)
print("shape of ay_F7b = ", ay_F7b.shape, " flags = \n", ay_F7b.flags)

 

You noticed that I defined two different ways of creating the bigger array into which we place the original one.

Results are:

 
Test 1: bias time C-cont./row with add_.._C() =>  0.20854935
shape_ay_Cb =  (785, 10000)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : False
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Test 2: bias time C-cont./col with add_.._C() =>  0.25661559
shape of ay_C2b =  (10000, 785)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : False
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Test 3: bias time F-cont./row with add_.._C() =>  0.67718296
shape of ay_C3b =  (785, 10000)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : False
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Test 4: nbias time F-cont./row with add_.._F() =>  0.25958392
shape of ay_F4b =  (785, 10000)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : False
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Test 5: nbias time F-cont./col with add_.._F() =>  0.20990409
shape of ay_F5b =  (10000, 785)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : False
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Test 6: nbias time C-cont./row with add_.._C() =>  0.22129941
shape of ay_C6b =  (785, 10000)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : False
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Test 7: nbias time C-cont./col with add_.._F() =>  0.67642328
shape of ay_F7b =  (10000, 785)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : False
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False

 

These results

  • confirm that it is a bad idea to place a F-contiguous array or (F-contiguous view on an array) into a C-contiguous one the way we presently do it;
  • confirm that we should at least create the surrounding array with the same order as the input array, which we place into it.

The best combinations are

  1. either to put an original C-contiguous array with fitting shape into a C-contiguous one with one more row,
  2. or to place an original F-contiguous array with suitable shape into a F-contiguous one with one more column.

By the way: Some systematic tests also showed that the time difference between the first and the third operation grows with batch size:

bs = 60000, rep. = 30   => t1=0.70, t3=2.91, fact=4.16 
bs = 50000, rep. = 30   => t1=0.58, t3=2.34, fact=4.03 
bs = 40000, rep. = 50   => t1=0.78, t3=3.07, fact=3.91
bs = 30000, rep. = 50   => t1=0.60, t3=2.21, fact=3.68     
bs = 20000, rep. = 60   => t1=0.49, t3=1.63, fact=3.35     
bs = 10000, rep. = 60   => t1=0.26, t3=0.82, fact=3.20     
bs =  5000, rep. = 60   => t1=0.11, t3=0.35, fact=3.24     
bs =  2000, rep. = 60   => t1=0.04, t3=0.10, fact=2.41     
bs =  1000, rep. = 200  => t1=0.17, t3=0.38, fact=2.21     
bs =   500, rep. = 1000 => t1=0.15, t3=0.32, fact=2.17     
bs =   500, rep. = 200  => t1=0.03, t3=0.06, fact=2.15     
bs =   100, rep. = 1500 => t1=0.04, t3=0.07, fact=1.92 

"rep" is the loop range (repetition), "fact" is the factor between the fastest operation (test1: C-cont. into C-cont.) and the slowest (test3: F-cont. into C-cont). (The best results were selected among multiple runs with different repetitions for the table above).

We clearly see that our problem gets worse with batch sizes above bs=1000!

Problems with shuffling?

Okay, let us assume we wanted to go either of the 2 optimization paths indicated above. Then we would need to prepare the input array in a suitable form. But, how does such an approach fit to the present initialization of the input data and the shuffling of "X_train" at the beginning of each epoch?

If we keep up our policy of adding a bias neuron to the input layer by the mechanism we use we either have to get the transposed view into C-contiguous form or at least create the new array (including the row) in F-contiguous form. (The latter will not hamper the later np.dot()-multiplication with the weight-matrix as we shall see below.) Or we must circumvent the bias neuron problem at the input layer in a different way.

Actually, there are two fast shuffling options - and both are designed to work efficiently with rows, only. Another point is that the result is always C-contiguous. Let us look at some tests:

 
# Shuffling 
# **********
dim1 = 60000
input_shapeX =(dim1, 784)
input_shapeY =(dim1, )

ay_X = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shapeX)*2.0, order='C', dtype=np.float32)
ay_Y = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shapeY)*2.0, order='C', dtype=np.float32)
ay_X2 = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shapeX)*2.0, order='C', dtype=np.float32)
ay_Y2 = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shapeY)*2.0, order='C', dtype=np.float32)

# Test 1: Shuffling of C-cont. array by np.random.shuffle 
tx = time.perf_counter()
np.random.shuffle(ay_X)
np.random.shuffle(ay_Y)
ty = time.perf_counter(); t_1 = ty - tx; 

print("\nShuffle Test 1: time C-cont. => t = ", "%10.8f"%t_1)
print("shape of ay_X = ", ay_X.shape, " flags = \n", ay_X.flags)
print("shape of ay_Y = ", ay_Y.shape, " flags = \n", ay_Y.flags)

# Test 2: Shuffling of C-cont. array by random index permutation  
# as we have coded it for the beginning of each epoch  
tx = time.perf_counter()
shuffled_index = np.random.permutation(dim1)
ay_X2, ay_Y2 = ay_X2[shuffled_index], ay_Y2[shuffled_index]
ty = time.perf_counter(); t_2 = ty - tx; 

print("\nShuffle Test 2: time C-cont. => t = ", "%10.8f"%t_2)
print("shape of ay_X2 = ", ay_X2.shape, " flags = \n", ay_X2.flags)
print("shape of ay_Y2 = ", ay_Y2.shape, " flags = \n", ay_Y2.flags)

# Test3 : Copy Time for writing the whole X-array into 'F' ordered form 
# such that slices transposed get C-order
ay_X3x = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shapeX)*2.0, order='C', dtype=np.float32)
tx = time.perf_counter()
ay_X3 = np.copy(ay_X3x, order='F')
ty = time.perf_counter(); t_3 = ty - tx; 
print("\nTest 3: time to copy to F-cont. array => t = ", "%10.8f"%t_3)
print("shape of ay_X3 = ", ay_X3.shape, " flags = \n", ay_X3.flags)

# Test4 - shuffling of rows in F-cont. array => The result is C-contiguous! 
tx = time.perf_counter()
shuffled_index = np.random.permutation(dim1)
ay_X3, ay_Y2 = ay_X3[shuffled_index], ay_Y2[shuffled_index]
ty = time.perf_counter(); t_4 = ty - tx; 
print("\nTest 4: Shuffle rows of F-cont. array => t = ", "%10.8f"%t_4)
print("shape of ay_X3 = ", ay_X3.shape, " flags = \n", ay_X3.flags)

# Test 5 - transposing and copying after => F-contiguous with changed shape   
tx = time.perf_counter()
ay_X5 = np.copy(ay_X.T)
ty = time.perf_counter(); t_5 = ty - tx; 
print("\nCopy Test 5: time copy to F-cont. => t = ", "%10.8f"%t_5)
print("shape of ay_X5 = ", ay_X5.shape, " flags = \n", ay_X5.flags)

# Test 6: shuffling columns in F-cont. array
tx = time.perf_counter()
shuffled_index = np.random.permutation(dim1)
ay_X6 = (ay_X5.T[shuffled_index]).T
ty = time.perf_counter(); t_6 = ty - tx; 
print("\nCopy Test 6: shuffling F-cont. array in columns => t = ", "%10.8f"%t_6)
print("shape of ay_X6 = ", ay_X6.shape, " flags = \n", ay_X6.flags)

 

Results are:

 
Shuffle Test 1: time C-cont. => t =  0.08650427
shape of ay_X =  (60000, 784)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : False
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False

shape of ay_Y =  (60000,)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Shuffle Test 2: time C-cont. => t =  0.02296818
shape of ay_X2 =  (60000, 784)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : False
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False

shape of ay_Y2 =  (60000,)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Test 3: time to copy to F-cont. array => t =  0.09333340
shape of ay_X3 =  (60000, 784)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : False
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Test 4: Shuffle rows of F-cont. array => t =  0.25790425
shape of ay_X3 =  (60000, 784)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : False
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Copy Test 5: time copy to F-cont. => t =  0.02146052
shape of ay_X5 =  (784, 60000)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : False
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


Copy Test 6: shuffling F-cont. array in columns by using the transposed view => t =  0.02402249
shape of ay_X6 =  (784, 60000)  flags = 
   C_CONTIGUOUS : False
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : False
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False

 

The results reveal three points:

  • Applying a random permutation of an index is faster than using np.random.shuffle() on the array.
  • The result is C-contiguous in both cases.
  • Shuffling of columns can be done in a fast way by shuffling rows of the transposed array.

So, at the beginning of each epoch we are in any case confronted with a C-contiguous array of shape (batch_size, 784). Comparing this with the test data further above seems to leave us with three choices:

  • Approach 1: At the beginning of each epoch we copy the input array into a F-contiguous one, such that the required transposed array afterwards is C-contiguous and our present version of "_add_bias_neuron_to_layer()" works fast with adding a row of bias nodes. The result would be a C-contiguous array with shape (785, size_batch).
  • Approach 2: We define a new method "_add_bias_neuron_to_layer_F()" which creates an F-contiguous array with an extra row into which we fit the existing (transposed) array "A_out_il". The result would be a F-contiguous array with shape (785, size_batch).
  • Approach 3: We skip adding a row for bias neurons altogether.

The first method has the disadvantage that the copy-process requires time itself at the beginning of each epoch. But according to the test data the total gain would be bigger than the loss (6 batches!). The second approach has a small disadvantage because "_add_bias_neuron_to_layer_F()" is slightly slower than its row oriented counterpart - but this will be compensated by a slightly faster matrix dot()-multiplication. All in all the second option seems to be the better one - in case we do not find a completely different approach. Just wait a minute ...

Intermezzo: Matrix multiplication np.dot() applied to C- and/or F-contiguous arrays

As we have come so far: How does np.dot() react to C- or F-contiguous arrays? The first two optimization approaches would end in different situations regarding the matrix multiplication. Let us cover all 4 possible combinations by some test:

 
# A simple test on np.dot() on C-contiguous and F-contiguous matrices
# *******************************************************
# Is the dot() multiplication fasterfor certain combinations of C- and F-contiguous matrices?  

input_shape =(800, 20000)
ay_inpC1 = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shape)*2.0, dtype=np.float32 )
#print("shape of ay_inpC1 = ", ay_inpC1.shape, " flags = ", ay_inpC1.flags)
ay_inpC2 = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shape)*2.0, dtype=np.float32 )
#print("shape of ay_inpC2 = ", ay_inpC2.shape, " flags = ", ay_inpC2.flags)
ay_inpC3 = np.array(np.random.random_sample(input_shape)*2.0, dtype=np.float32 )
print("shape of ay_inpC3 = ", ay_inpC3.shape, " flags = ", ay_inpC3.flags)

ay_inpF1 = np.copy(ay_inpC1, order='F')
ay_inpF2 = np.copy(ay_inpC2, order='F')
ay_inpF3 = np.copy(ay_inpC3, order='F')
print("shape of ay_inpF3 = ", ay_inpF3.shape, " flags = ", ay_inpF3.flags)

weight_shape =(101, 800)
weightC = np.array(np.random.random_sample(weight_shape)*0.5, dtype=np.float32)
print("shape of weightC = ", weightC.shape, " flags = ", weightC.flags)
weightF = np.copy(weightC, order='F')
print("shape of weightF = ", weightF.shape, " flags = ", weightF.flags)

rg_j = range(300)


ts = time.perf_counter()
for j in rg_j:
    resCC1 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpC1)
    resCC2 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpC2)
    resCC3 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpC3)
    resCC1 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpC1)
    resCC2 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpC2)
    resCC3 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpC3)
te = time.perf_counter(); tcc = te - ts; print("\n dot tCC time = ", "%10.8f"%tcc)


ts = time.perf_counter()
for j in rg_j:
    resCF1 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpF1)
    resCF2 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpF2)
    resCF3 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpF3)
    resCF1 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpF1)
    resCF2 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpF2)
    resCF3 = np.dot(weightC, ay_inpF3)
te = time.perf_counter(); tcf = te - ts; print("\n dot tCF time = ", "%10.8f"%tcf)

ts = time.perf_counter()
for j in rg_j:
    resF1 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpC1)
    resF2 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpC2)
    resF3 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpC3)
    resF1 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpC1)
    resF2 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpC2)
    resF3 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpC3)
te = time.perf_counter(); tfc = te - ts; print("\n dot tFC time = ", "%10.8f"%tfc)

ts = time.perf_counter()
for j in rg_j:
    resF1 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpF1)
    resF2 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpF2)
    resF3 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpF3)
    resF1 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpF1)
    resF2 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpF2)
    resF3 = np.dot(weightF, ay_inpF3)
te = time.perf_counter(); tff = te - ts; print("\n dot tFF time = ", "%10.8f"%tff)


 

The results show some differences - but they are relatively small:

 
shape of ay_inpC3 =  (800, 20000)  flags =    C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : False
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False

shape of ay_inpF3 =  (800, 20000)  flags =    C_CONTIGUOUS : False
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False

shape of weightC =  (101, 800)  flags =    C_CONTIGUOUS : True
  F_CONTIGUOUS : False
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False

shape of weightF =  (101, 800)  flags =    C_CONTIGUOUS : False
  F_CONTIGUOUS : True
  OWNDATA : True
  WRITEABLE : True
  ALIGNED : True
  WRITEBACKIFCOPY : False
  UPDATEIFCOPY : False


 dot tCC time =  21.77729867

 dot tCF time =  20.68745600

 dot tFC time =  21.42704156

 dot tFF time =  20.65543837

 
Actually, most of the tiny differences comes from putting the matrix into a fitting order. This is something Numpy.dot() performs automatically; see the documentation. The matrix operation is fastest for the second matrix being in F-order, but the difference is nothing to worry about at our present discussion level.

Avoiding the bias problem at the input layer

We could now apply one of the two strategies to improve our mechanism of dealing with the bias nodes at the input layer. You would notice a significant acceleration there. But you leave the other layers unchanged. Why?

The reason is quite simple: The matrix multiplications with the weight matrix - done by "np.dot()" - produces the C-contiguous arrays at later layers with the required shapes! E.g., an input array at layer L1 of the suitable shape (70, 10000). So, we can for the moment leave everything at the hidden layers and at the output layer untouched.

However, the discussion above made one thing clear: The whole approach of how we technically treat bias nodes is to be criticized. Can we at least go another way at the input layer?

Yes, we can. Without touching the weight matrix connecting the layers L0 and L1. We need to get rid of unnecessary or inefficient operations in the training loop, but we can afford some bigger operations during the setup of the input data. What, if we added the required bias values already to the input data array?

This would require a column operation on a transposition of the whole dataset "X". But, we need to perform this operation only once - and before splitting the data set into training and test sets! As a MLP generally works with flattened data such an approach should work for other datasets, too.

Measurements show that adding a bias column will cost us between 0.030 and 0.035 secs. A worthy one time investment! Think about it: We would not need to touch our already fast methods of shuffling and slicing to get the batches - and even the transposed matrix would already have the preferred F-contiguous order for np.dot()! The required code changes are minimal; we just need to adapt our methods "_handle_input_data()" and "_fw_propagation()" by two, three lines:

 
    ''' -- Method to handle different types of input data sets 
           Currently only different MNIST sets are supported 
           We can also IMPORT a preprocessed MIST data set --''' 
    def _handle_input_data(self):    
        '''
        Method to deal with the input data: 
        - check if we have a known data set ("mnist" so far)
        - reshape as required 
        - analyze dimensions and extract the feature dimension(s) 
        '''
        # check for known dataset 
        try: 
            if (self._my_data_set not in self._input_data_sets ): 
                raise ValueError
        except ValueError:
            print("The requested input data" + self._my_data_set + " is not known!" )
            sys.exit()   
        
        # MNIST datasets 
        # **************
        
        # handle the mnist original dataset - is not supported any more 
        if ( self._my_data_set == "mnist"): 
            mnist = fetch_mldata('MNIST original')
            self._X, self._y = mnist["data"], mnist["target"]
            print("Input data for dataset " + self._my_data_set + " : \n" + "Original shape of X = " + str(self._X.shape) +
        #      "\n" + "Original shape of y = " + str(self._y.shape))
        #
        # handle the mnist_784 dataset 
        if ( self._my_data_set == "mnist_784"): 
            mnist2 = fetch_openml('mnist_784', version=1, cache=True, data_home='~/scikit_learn_data') 
            self._X, self._y = mnist2["data"], mnist2["target"]
            print ("data fetched")
            # the target categories are given as strings not integers 
            self._y = np.array([int(i) for i in self._y], dtype=np.float32)
            print ("data modified")
            print("Input data for dataset " + self._my_data_set + " : \n" + "Original shape of X = " + str(self._X.shape) +
              "\n" + "Original shape of y = " + str(self._y.shape))
            
        # handle the mnist_keras dataset - PREFERRED 
        if ( self._my_data_set == "mnist_keras"): 
            (X_train, y_train), (X_test, y_test) = kmnist.load_data()
            len_train =  X_train.shape[0]
            len_test  =  X_test.shape[0]
            X_train = X_train.reshape(len_train, 28*28) 
            X_test  = X_test.reshape(len_test, 28*28) 
            
            # Concatenation required due to possible later normalization of all data
            self._X = np.concatenate((X_train, X_test), axis=0)
            self._y = np.concatenate((y_train, y_test), axis=0)
            print("Input data for dataset " + self._my_data_set + " : \n" + "Original shape of X = " + str(self._X.shape) +
              "\n" + "Original shape of y = " + str(self._y.shape))
        #
        # common MNIST handling 
        if ( self._my_data_set == "mnist" or self._my_data_set == "mnist_784" or self._my_data_set == "mnist_keras" ): 
            self._common_handling_of_mnist()
        
        # handle IMPORTED MNIST datasets (could in later versions also be used for other dtaasets
        # **************************+++++
            # Note: Imported sets are e.g. useful for testing some new preprocessing in a Jupyter environment before implementing related new methods
        if ( self._my_data_set == "imported"): 
            if (self._X_import is not None) and (self._y_import is not None):
                self._X = self._X_import
                self._y = self._y_import
            else:
                print("Shall handle imported datasets - but they are not defined")
                sys.exit() 
        #
        # number of total records in X, y
        self._dim_X = self._X.shape[0]
            
        # ************************
        # Common dataset handling 
        # ************************

        # transform to 32 bit 
        # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        self._X = self._X.astype(np.float32)
        self._y = self._y.astype(np.int32)
                
        # Give control to preprocessing - Note: preproc. includes also normalization
        # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        self._preprocess_input_data()   # scaling, PCA, cluster detection .... 
        
        # ADDING A COLUMN FOR BIAS NEURONS  
        # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        self._X = self._add_bias_neuron_to_layer(self._X, 'column')
        print("type of self._X = ", self._X.dtype, "  flags = ", self._X.flags)
        print("type of self._y = ", self._y.dtype)
        
        # mixing the training indices - MUST happen BEFORE encoding
        # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
        shuffled_index = np.random.permutation(self._dim_X)
        self._X, self._y = self._X[shuffled_index], self._y[shuffled_index]
        
        # Splitting into training and test datasets 
        # ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        if self._num_test_records > 0.25 * self._dim_X:
            print("\nNumber of test records bigger than 25% of available data. Too big, we stop." )
            sys.exit()
        else:
            num_sep = self._dim_X - self._num_test_records
            self._X_train, self._X_test, self._y_train, self._y_test = self._X[:num_sep], self._X[num_sep:], self._y[:num_sep], self._y[num_sep:] 
 
        # numbers, dimensions
        # *********************
        self._dim_sets = self._y_train.shape[0]
        self._dim_features = self._X_train.shape[1] 
        print("\nFinal dimensions of training and test datasets of type " + self._my_data_set + 
              " : \n" + "Shape of X_train = " + str(self._X_train.shape) + 
              "\n" + "Shape of y_train = " + str(self._y_train.shape) + 
              "\n" + "Shape of X_test = " + str(self._X_test.shape) + 
              "\n" + "Shape of y_test = " + str(self._y_test.shape) 
              )
        print("\nWe have " + str(self._dim_sets) + " data records for training") 
        print("Feature dimension is " + str(self._dim_features)) 
       
        # Encode the y-target labels = categories // MUST happen AFTER encoding 
        # **************************
        self._get_num_labels()
        self._encode_all_y_labels(self._b_print_test_data)
        #
        return None
.....
.....
    ''' -- Method to handle FW propagation for a mini-batch --'''
    def _fw_propagation(self, li_Z_in, li_A_out):
        ''' 
        Parameter: 
        li_Z_in :   list of input values at all layers  - li_Z_in[0] is already filled - 
                    other elements of this list are to be filled during FW-propagation
        li_A_out:   list of output values at all layers - to be filled during FW-propagation
        '''
        
        # index range for all layers 
        #    Note that we count from 0 (0=>L0) to E L(=>E) / 
        #    Careful: during BW-propagation we need a clear indexing of the lists filled during FW-propagation
        ilayer = range(0, self._n_total_layers-1)
        
        # do not change if you use vstack - shape may vary for predictions - cannot take self._no_ones yet  
        # np_bias = np.ones((1,li_Z_in[0].shape[1]))

        # propagation loop
        # ***************
        for il in ilayer:
            
            # Step 1: Take input of last layer and apply activation function 
            # ******
            #ts=time.perf_counter()
            if il == 0: 
                A_out_il = li_Z_in[il] # L0: activation function is identity !!!
            else: 
                A_out_il = self._act_func( li_Z_in[il] ) # use real activation function 
            
            # Step 2: Add bias node
            # ****** 
            # As we have taken care of this for the input layer already at data setup we perform this only for hidden layers 
            if il > 0: 
                A_out_il = self._add_bias_neuron_to_layer(A_out_il, 'row')
            li_A_out[il] = A_out_il    # save data for the BW propagation 
            
            # Step 3: Propagate by matrix operation
            # ****** 
            Z_in_ilp1 = np.dot(self._li_w[il], A_out_il) 
            li_Z_in[il+1] = Z_in_ilp1
        
        # treatment of the last layer 
        # ***************************
        il = il + 1
        A_out_il = self._out_func( li_Z_in[il] ) # use the output function 
        li_A_out[il] = A_out_il   # save data for the BW propagation 
        
        return None

 
The required change of the first method consists of adding just one effective line

      
        self._X = self._add_bias_neuron_to_layer(self._X, 'column') 

Note that I added the column for the bias values after pre-processing. The bias neurons - more precisely - their constant values should not be regarded or included in clustering, PCA, normalization or whatever other things we do ahead of training.

In the second method we just had to eliminate a statement and add a condition, which excludes the input layer from an (additional) bias neuron treatment. That is all we need to do.

Improvements ???

How much of an improvement can we expect? Assuming that the forward propagation consumes around 40% of the total computational time of an epoch, and taking the introductory numbers we would say that we should gain something like 0.40*0.43*100 %, i.e. 17.2%. However, this too much as the basic effect of our change varies non-linearly with the batch-size.

So, something around a 15% reduction of the CPU time for a training run with 35 epochs and a batch size of only 500 would be great.

However, we should expect a much bigger effect on the FW-propagation of the complete training set (though the test data set may be more interesting otherwise). OK, let us do 2 test runs - the first without a special verification of the accuracy on the training set, the second with a verification of the accuracy via propagating the training set at the end of each and every epoch.

Results of the first run:

------------------
Starting epoch 35

Time_CPU for epoch 35 0.2717692229998647
Total CPU-time:  9.625694645001204

learning rate =  0.0009994051838157095

total costs of training set   =  -1.0
rel. reg. contrib. to total costs =  -1.0

total costs of last mini_batch   =  65.10513
rel. reg. contrib. to batch costs =  0.121494114

mean abs weight at L0 :  -10.0
mean abs weight at L1 :  -10.0
mean abs weight at L2 :  -10.0

avg total error of last mini_batch =  0.00805
presently batch averaged accuracy   =  0.99247

-------------------
Total training Time_CPU:  9.625974849001068

And the second run gives us :

------------------
Starting epoch 35

Time_CPU for epoch 35 0.37750117799805594
Total CPU-time:  13.164013020999846

learning rate =  0.0009994051838157095

total costs of training set   =  5929.9297
rel. reg. contrib. to total costs =  0.0013557569

total costs of last mini_batch   =  50.148125
rel. reg. contrib. to batch costs =  0.16029811

mean abs weight at L0 :  0.064023666
mean abs weight at L1 :  0.38064405
mean abs weight at L2 :  1.320015

avg total error of last mini_batch =  0.00626
presently reached train accuracy   =  0.99045
presently batch averaged accuracy   =  0.99267


-------------------
Total training Time_CPU:  13.16432525900018

The small deviation of the accuracy values determined by error averaging over batches vs. the test on the complete training set stems from slightly different measurement methods as discussed in the first sections of this article.

What do our results mean with respect to performance?
Well, we went down from 11.33 secs to 9.63 secs for the CPU time of the training run. This is a fair 15% improvement. But remember that we came from something like 50 secs at the beginning of our optimization, so all in all we have gained an improvement by a factor of 5 already!

In our last article we found a factor of 1.68 between the runs with a full propagation of the complete training set at each and every epoch for accuracy evaluation. Such a run lasted roughly for 19 secs. We now went down to 13.16 secs. Meaning: Instead of 7.7 secs we only consumed 3.5 secs for propagating all 60000 samples 35 times in one sweep.

We reduced the CPU time for the FW propagation of the training set (plus error evaluation) by 54%, i.e. by more than a factor of 2! Meaning: We have really achieved something for the FW-propagation of big batches!

By the way: Checking accuracy on the test dataset instead on the training dataset after each and every epoch requires 10.15 secs.

------------------
Starting epoch 35

Time_CPU for epoch 35 0.29742689200065797
Total CPU-time:  10.150781942997128

learning rate =  0.0009994051838157095

total costs of training set   =  -1.0
rel. reg. contrib. to total costs =  -1.0

total costs of last mini_batch   =  73.17834
rel. reg. contrib. to batch costs =  0.10932728

mean abs weight at L0 :  -10.0
mean abs weight at L1 :  -10.0
mean abs weight at L2 :  -10.0

avg total error of last mini_batch =  0.00804
presently reached test accuracy    =  0.96290
presently batch averaged accuracy   =  0.99269


-------------------
Total training Time_CPU:  10.1510079389991 

You see the variation in the accuracy values.

Eventually, I give you run times for 35 epochs of the MLP for larger batch sizes:

bs = 500   => t(35) = 9.63 secs 
bs = 5000  => t(35) = 8.75 secs
bs = 10000 => t(35) = 8.55 secs
bs = 20000 => t(35) = 8.68 secs
bs = 30000 => t(35) = 8.65 secs

So, we get not below a certain value - despite the fact that FW-propagation gets faster with batch-size. So, we have some more batch-size dependent impediments in the BW-propagation, too, which compensate our gains.

Plots

Just to show that our modified program still produces reasonable results after 650 training steps - here the plot and result data :

------------------
Starting epoch 651
....
....
avg total error of last mini_batch =  0.00878
presently reached train accuracy   =  0.99498
presently reached test accuracy    =  0.97740
presently batch averaged accuracy   =  0.99214
-------------------
Total training Time_CPU:  257.541123711002

The total time was to be expected as we checked accuracy values at each and every epoch both for the complete training and the test datasets (635/35*14 = 260 secs = 2.3 min!).

Conclusion

This was a funny ride today. We found a major impediment for a fast FW-propagation. We determined its cause in the inefficient combination of two differently ordered matrices which we used to account for bias nodes in the input layer. We investigated some optimization options for our present approach regarding bias neurons at layer L0. But it was much more reasonable to circumvent the whole problem by adding bias values already to the input array itself. This gave us a significant improvement for the FW-propagation of big batches - roughly by a factor of 2.5 for the complete training data set as an extreme example. But also testing accuracy on the full test data set at each and every epoch is no major performance factor any longer.

However, our whole analysis showed that we must put a big question mark behind our present approach to bias neurons. But before we attack this problem, we shall take a closer look at BW-propagation in the next article:

MLP, Numpy, TF2 – performance issues – Step III – a correction to BW propagation

And there we shall replace another stupid time wasting part of the code, too. It will give us another improvement of around 15% to 20%. Stay tuned ...

Links

Performance of class methods vs. pure Python functions
stackoverflow : how-much-slower-python-classes-are-compared-to-their-equivalent-functions

Shuffle columns?
stackoverflow: shuffle-columns-of-an-array-with-numpy

Numpy arrays or matrices?
stackoverflow : numpy-np-array-versus-np-matrix-performance