# Experiments

While components encapsulate functionality using life cycle events, tasks specify their execution. The event paradigm of the components enables a powerful abstraction since we can compose arbitrary schedules for triggering the components life cycles. To make this more concrete, consider the following simple example:


# tasks/example.py
import machinable as ml

task = ml.Experiment().components("optimization").repeat(3)

ml.execute(task, "~/results")

The task definition can be read as Import components 'optimization' and repeat its execution in three independent trials. Note that the task object does not trigger the execution but merely describes the execution plan and is then triggered using the execute method.

Crucially, machinable can take care of the intricacies of the execution based on this high-level description, i.e. import and construction of the components and trigger of its event life cycle. The engine can also keep track of the used configuration, generate seeds for controlled randomness and prepare a unique store path to keep results. Since the execution details are abstracted away, it does not matter whether you run on a local computer or a distributed remote cluster. The engine comes with native support for distributed remote execution based on Ray as well as support for remote file systems like S3 store.

The task interface allows for dynamic configuration adjustments in a clear and systematic way. It eliminates global for-loops or manual re-runs of python scripts with different command-line parameters.

# Defining tasks

A task entails an arbitrary amount of components that can be added using the components method that specifies the components name as defined in the machinable.yaml.



Note that all task methods can be chained, e.g. Experiment().components('B').repeat(5).

# Combining, repeating and splitting

The components can be proliferated using the repeat() functionality, for example:

# -> [A], [A], [A]

Note that a repeat includes every components of the task and that it can be used recursively:

# -> [A, B], [A, B]
# -> [[A, B], [A, B]], [[A, B], [A, B]]

machinable will inject the flags REPEAT_NUMBER and REPEAT_TOTAL into each of the components accordingly. By default, the repeats are independent meaning machinable will inject a different SEED flag for each of the repeated components.

Another form of repetition is induced by the split() method that injects SPLIT_SEED, SPLIT_NUMBER and SPLIT_TOTAL flags into the components. Using the flag information, you can implement customized splitting operations. For example, to implement a cross-validation algorithm the components can split the dataset using the SPLIT_SEED and use the split that is specified by the SPLIT_NUMBER for training. As a result, the split components will conduct a k-fold cross-validation.

# Adjusting configuration

While configuration values can be manually edited in the machinable.yaml, in practice it is often useful to declare certain configuration adjustments programmatically.

# Tuples and lists

You can pass a tuple with the components name and a configuration patch to adjust the default configuration of a components. In the following example, a dictionary is used to override the default dataset and learning rate that has been specified in the machinable.yaml.

ml.Experiment().components(('optimization', {'dataset': 'mnist', 'learning_rate': 0.5}))
                  # ( |-components-| , |-- configuration patch ---------------| )

More general, tuples are interpreted as a merge operators that merge the containing elements together. Consider the following example:

ml.Experiment().components(('optimization', ({'a': 1}, {'a': 2, 'b': 3})))
# is equivalent to                   ^ - merge operation ------ ^
ml.Experiment().components(('optimization', {'a': 2, 'b': 3}))

To compare two different learning rates, you could declare the following task:

ml.Experiment(name='learning_rates').components(('optimization', {'learning_rate': 0.1}))\
                              .components(('optimization', {'learning_rate': 0.01}))

Since the task will execute every components with their adjusted configuration, the optimization will proceed with a learning rate of 0.1 and 0.01. To express these types of iterations more effectively, you can use lists to induce the same repetition as above:

ml.Experiment().components(('optimization', [{'learning_rate': lr} for lr in (0.1, 0.01)]))
#                                    ^ -- list of patches induces a repeat ----- ^

# Versions

Since dictionaries can be cumbersome, it is possible to pass configuration patches directly as YAML:

# language=yaml
alexnet = """
learning_rate: 0.1
  name: mnist

task = ml.Task().components(("optimization", alexnet))

# the above is equivalent to:

task = ml.Task().components(
    ("optimization", {"learning_rate": 0.1, "data": {"name": "mnist"}})

However, rather retrieving YAML from variables, it is more suitable to define the versions directly in the machinable.yaml. To define a version, specify the configuration difference under a key that starts with ~, for instance:

  - optimization:
      learning_rate: 0.001
        name: cifar10
        augmentation: False
          name: mnist
        learning_rate: 0.1
          name: imagenet

The version can then be accessed using its key name ~<version-name>, for example:

task = ml.Experiment().components(('optimization', '~alexnet'))
# is equivalent to 
task = ml.Experiment().components(('optimization', {'learning_rate': 0.1, 
                                             'data': {'name': 'imagenet'}}))

It is also possible to reference mixins configuration using _<mixin-name>_:

task = ml.Experiment().components(('optimization', '_imagenet_'))

Taking these concepts together, task allow you to manage complex configuration adjustments in a flexible way. Consider the following example:

task = ml.Experiment().component('optimization', 
                           ('~alexnet', '~mnist', {'learning_rate': 0.5}))

This would result in the following components configuration:

learning_rate: 0.5
network: alexnet
    name: mnist

Can you work out what the following task entails?

ml.Experiment().components(('optimization', [('~mnist', 
                                      {'network': 'renset',
                                      'learning_rate': lr * 0.01 + 0.1}) 
                                      for lr in range(10)])).repeat(2)

# Child components

The second argument of the components() method allows to add one or a list of many child components. You can specify the child components just like you specify the node components, i.e. using configuration adjustment and repetition via list and tuples as well as versions.

# Other components options

Components are described using tuples of the following structure:

 name,       # components name, see above
 version,    # configuration adjustment, see above
 checkpoint, # see below
 flags       # see below

# Checkpoints

If the checkpoint option is specified, machinable will trigger the components's on_restore event with the given filepath. This allows for restoring components from previously saved checkpoints

# Flags

In addition to the default execution flags, you can use the flags parameter to extend the flags dictionary of the components.

For a comprehensive description of the Experiment API, consult the reference.

# Executing tasks

To schedule a task for execution, use the execute() method.

task = ml.Experiment().component('example')
ml.execute(task, storage=None, seed=None)

machinable will generate a unique 6-digit task ID (e.g. OY1p1o) that will be printed at the beginning of the execution output. The ID encodes the global random seed and is used as a relative directory to write any data generated by the task.

# Store

By default, the store is the non-permanent system memory which is useful during development. To keep your results, make sure to pass in a filesystem url to the store parameter.

import machinable as ml
ml.execute(..., store='~/observations')    # local file system
ml.execute(..., store='s3://bucket')       # s3 store

# Drivers

While tasks are executed locally and sequential by default, machinable provides different Engine for parallel and remote execution. For example, to execute components in parallel processes you may use the multiprocessing driver:

import machinable as ml
ml.execute(..., driver='multiprocessing')

To learn more about available drivers and their options, refer to the Engine section.

# Randomness and reproducibility

machinable chooses and sets a global random seed automatically at execution time. You can also determine the seed with the seed parameter by passing in a number or an execution ID:

ml.execute(ml.Experiment().component('controlled_randomness'), seed=42)

To re-use the seed of a given task ID and reproduce the execution results, you can pass the execution id as the seed:

ml.execute(ml.Experiment().component('controlled_randomness'), seed='OY1p1o')

If you need more control over randomness and how packages are being seeded, you can overwrite the on_seeding event in your components class.

# Code backups

machinable automatically backs up the code base at execution time in a zip file that can be used to reproduce the results. Note that the project directory needs to be under Git-version control to determine which files are included and ignored during the backup (.gitignore file). To disable code backups, set store to {'code_backup': False, 'url': 's3://bucket'}.

# Development mode

You can set the environment variable MACHINABLE_MODE to DEV to enable a development mode. In development mode, machinable will not conduct code backups and store will not be persistent regardless of the specified store argument.