DataTalks.Club

Building Machine Learning Pipelines

by Hannes Hapke, Catherine Nelson

The book of the week from 07 Jun 2021 to 11 Jun 2021

Companies are spending billions on machine learning projects, but it’s money wasted if the models can’t be deployed effectively. In this book, Hannes Hapke and Catherine Nelson walk you through the steps of automating a machine learning pipeline using the TensorFlow ecosystem. You’ll learn the techniques and tools that will cut deployment time from days to minutes, so that you can focus on developing new models rather than maintaining legacy systems.

Questions and Answers

Sricharan

Thanks for doing this Hannes Hapke.
Are CPUs predominant for powering inference services today?

Hannes Hapke

Hi Sricharan, I think the answer depends on the model architecture. But I think it is true in most cases. At digits.com we have deployed a number of transformer models, and we have optimized them to such an extended that the latency is decent on a CPU instance.

Sricharan

What are your thoughts on inference chips like Google Coral or Jetson Nano?

Hannes Hapke

I haven’t really seen consumer facing applications since the users always need the device. That changes in an instance as soon as a phone contains a coral chip.

Sricharan

What are your thoughts on building and deploying continuous training models at scale?

Hannes Hapke

A must for scalable ML projects. 🙂

Sricharan

What inspired you to write this book? Do you see a future where ML deployment/training a part of “full-stack” software engineer portfolio?

Hannes Hapke

When I wrote the initial proposal, I was missing an overarching toolchain for MLOps. Luckily that developed during the course of the book writing with the most promising contender TFX.
ML part of “full-stack” software engineer? I don’t think so. The term “full-stack” software engineer is already overloaded, I doubt we can squeeze in another definition. However, I would like to see that more domain experts (regardless of the field) apply more ML. The standardization of ML will help with the adoption.

Alper Demirel

Thank you so much for being here Hannes Hapke.
What do you think are the biggest challenges a junior machine learning engineer or intern will face when building a machine learning pipeline? What should they pay attention to?

Hannes Hapke

biggest challenge: Seeing an ML project end-to-end.

Hannes Hapke

From the data investigation, model architecture selection, validation, deployment, feedback loop (last one often missed).

Alper Demirel

thank you for your answers, sir

Hannes Hapke

My pleasure!

Lalit Pagaria

Thank you Hannes Hapke for being here.
I see very tight coupling between training and serving pipeline. Most of ML pipeline concentrate more towards training side in comparison to serving side. But real user of Model are served by serving pipeline. What is your opinion about completely delinking these two pipelines? and what do suggest towards building scalable serving pipeline?

Hannes Hapke

Hi Lalit Pagaria I think the processes are already delinked. At last at Digits where I work. We produce model version candidates which come out of our pipelines. After a human review, those model get deployed via a 2nd automated process.

Hannes Hapke

To keep your pipelines scalable, I think the combination between Apache Beam and Kubernetes is key.

Hannes Hapke

Beam lets you scale all data heavy tasks. You can start off with a direct runner (runs within a k8s container) and you can later export the data heavy tasks to its own cluster (with Beam using Apache Flink or GCP Dataflow)

Lalit Pagaria

Thank you Hannes Hapke
I will explore this idea of using Beam’s Pipeline IO for my project Obsei.

Hannes Hapke

Cool Project! Thank you for sharing.

Shankar Somayajula

Hi Hannes Hapke Thanks a lot for taking questions.
Most DS work seems to occur in python but what role can SQL play in the execution/orchestration of ML Pipelines especially within Tensorflow ecosystem?
Also cant we use SQL in Model Analysis … A lot of the Fairness/Checks can be performed using sql. Analyzing the performance of a model is akin to performing BI tool actions to compare actual and prediction data sets. Its similar to comparing Sales or Marketing Campaign performance for 2 applicable products.

Hannes Hapke

Hi Shankar Somayajula
SQL is very useful for building the data ingestion in ML pipelines.
SQL for model validation? I think this only works if the model is deployed in some way. The results would be stored in the db and then analyzed with SQL. But the model validation should happen before a model deployment, therefore SQL isn’t a great tool here. If we do it in Python, we don’t have to store the validation results in a db and can keep it memory.

Shankar Somayajula

Hannes Hapke Some follow up questions. Hope you dont mind :)
Sorry, I meant sql for purpose of Model Monitoring post deployment to catch things like data drift, concept drift, model internal patterns becoming stale etc, not Model Validation (during model build). Yes, i agree this would require that all scoring details have to be stored in the database.
Regd sql usage in ML Pipelines, i guess you mean that sql part of pipeline exists prior to Tensorflow coming into the pic. Do you know of any cases of Tensorflow doing its magic (so to say :D) and sql doing some analytics post TF? Is that a rarity, python usually does the post processing, if any.
Background/Explainer: We use In-Database ML in our company, so sql is the go to tool even for ML tasks.

Hannes Hapke

In-Database ML seems to be great if the models are smallish. I haven’t seen such a setup for larger language models (might be a minority anyway).

Hannes Hapke

We use BigQuery very heavily at Digits and therefore use SQL for analytics of the deployed models

Shankar Somayajula

Thanks for the info. Personally I dont know much about NLP… Our In-Database usecases are more traditional ML usecases like classification, regression, anomaly detection etc. I work for Oracle so the technology is based on Oracle Db and Oracle Cloud Tech.

Rona Ainslie

Hi, what do you see as the main differences between deep learning and machine learning? I’ve never used tensorFlow, but I have used a little sklearn to create neural networks (eg MLPClassifier) is that still machine learning or does it cross into deep learning?

Hannes Hapke

Hi Rona Ainslie Deep learning is subset of ML where model are “deeper” meaning they contain more layers to capture more complex relationships. I think the boudary between traditional ML and deep learning are fuzzy. If you are interested in MLOps with Scikit learn, take a look at this example below on how to use TensorFlow Extended for Scikit Learn models: penguin_pipeline_sklearn_local.py

Rona Ainslie

Brilliant, that looks very interesting. Thanks

Bayram Kapti

Hi Hannes Hapke,
What are the roles in a team that supports building ML pipeline?
How do MLEs, DEs & DSs work together to build a ML pipeline?
Who manages this process? DS Lead, ML Engineer Lead, DE Lead?

Hannes Hapke

The roles are often defined differently from company to company. In the context at Digits.com, ML Engineers work hand in hand with Data engineers. For example, data engineers are the experts to provide BigQuery queries for data ingestion component. ML Engineers then take it from there and build the down stream components.

Hannes Hapke

Q: Who manages this process? DS Lead, ML Engineer Lead, DE Lead?
Honestly, I haven’t seen a place where all three roles come together.

Bayram Kapti

And as a follow up, do you discuss these in your book? Thanks!

Hannes Hapke

We discuss the aspects of the different roles in Ch 1

Dr Abdulrahman Baqais

Hi Hannes Hapke. Thanks for your effort in putting your experience in this book. Very interesting book and very valuable for team leads. Couple of questions:
1) Do you think having an automated process is a necessary step or a luxurious one for data teams?

2) Shall an automated pipeline be only enforced in mature teams at big organizations or even startup should consider it?

3) Automated pipeline usually is discussed at modeling and deployment….should not that be extended to project scoping , business analysis and data gathering and customer satisfaction. So then we havean overall operating model for the whole process?

4) Can we have the same pipeline for all types of analytics: Insights, ML, DL, RL? Or DL & RL might demand different requirements?

5) Can automated ML tools from Datarobot, Google and Amazon helps in setting up the right pipeline for new teams? Or an expert ML must be there to design and operate?.

Hannes Hapke
  1. For long term projects a necessity
  2. Startups with a solid product market fit will tremendously benefit from the standardization around the ML practices. Our data team at Digits doesn’t have the size of Amazon’s 🙂
Hannes Hapke

3) MLOps is focusing on the continuous “production” of ML model versions for a given model. I think the tasks you mentioned are important, but I think they are part of the job of a ML product manager or data scientist. The project scoping wouldn’t change with every new model version. It can be (and should be) set before the project starts.

Hannes Hapke

4) I don’t think that insights require ML pipelines, but a proper data engineering work flow,. Here, we aren’t training a model which needs to be validated and deployed.
ML Pipelines generally focus on ML and DL models.
I haven’t seen a pipeline for RL models. But that doesn’t mean that a pipeline couldn’t be used. I just haven’t seen a proper production RL model so far (except for hand crafted, very specific solutions).

Hannes Hapke

5) I think products like Datarobot provide the same thinking behind their products. Last time I checked Datarobot was only focused on ML models. Whoever operates Datarobot, Google, etc. on your team needs to understand the implications of the ML model and investigate it before deploying it.

Dr Abdulrahman Baqais

Thank you much for this elaborated answers. Indeed ML pipeline is necessary for data teams.

Saskia Kutz

Hi Hannes Hapke. The description of your book sounds very interesting. How well do I need to know Tensorflow (and further prior knowledge) to understand your book?

Hannes Hapke

Hi Saskia Kutz,
We have focused on the TF ecosystem because it provides the most holistic toolset for ML Engineering. Some chapters are framework agnostic (e.g. TensorFlow Data Validation can be used with Scikit learn or PyTorch models). Since we published the book, TFX improved further to be used with scikit, JAX, or PyTorch models. See please penguin_utils_sklearn.py for an example. Furthermore, the book introduces a variety of concepts (e.g. model feedback loops, ML Privacy) which transfer well to other frameworks.
Viele Gruesse,
Hannes

Ricky McMaster

Thanks a lot for doing this Hannes Hapke
Given the greater scope/need for scalability in contemporary ML pipelines, do you see there being increased chances for bias/prejudices in model development, as a result of the need for greater automation?
Or does the fact that there is increased role specification (e.g. ML engineers were fairly rare a few years ago) help to mitigate this, so that this issue could be more formally addressed in the development lifecycle?
Do you discuss this in your book?

Hannes Hapke

Hi Ricky McMaster,
Re: Bias due to automation - Yes and no. Let me explain. if the training is just automated and “forgotten”, it will (most likely) lead to a bias in the models. But if the pipelines are well set up (e.g. TFMA is cont. tuned), the feedback loops continuously analyzed and the model reviewed by a data scientist before the final deployment, then I think it can contribute to less bias in a model. Why? All model versions are stepping through the exact same steps - basically being treated equally and a human can’t cut corners.

Ricky McMaster

Thanks Hannes Hapke. That’s a really good point about TFMA, I’ll bear that in mind. But in essence I guess you’re saying it’s the same as it ever was - you need to have proper processes and standards in place to counteract the risks.

Hannes Hapke

Yes, it is important to look for the Unknown unknowns.

Hannes Hapke

as much as possible

Ricky McMaster

🤝

Ricky McMaster

I really wish it wasn’t Donald Rumsfeld that coined this phrase… since it’s a good one

Hannes Hapke

I totally hear you. Was he the first one using the terminology?

Ricky McMaster

I thought so! But it seems (thankfully) that he got it from NASA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_are_known_knowns

Kyle Shannon

❓ Hey Hannes Hapke, thanks for contributing and sharing you knowledge with the data community. What does a healthy evolution of an ML product look like when trying to POC and iterate? What would be some key things learned to make sure to take care of earlier or wait until later to do?

Hannes Hapke

Hi Kyle Shannon ,

Hannes Hapke

Great question! We are treating an ML project in two phases. First, solve a real business with a model proof of concept. This could be based on a limited dataset, in a Jupyter notebook, and with experimental code. Only when the project stakeholders see the value in the ML model and you can show that it is solving the business problem, then focus on the pipeline development. From that model on try to keep the model architecture constant, increase the datasets and automate as much as you can. It will be helpful in the long run (e.g. in 6 months when you want to update the model architecture or update the model validation). Pipeline code is generally cleaner than an experimental Jupyter notebook.

Kyle Shannon

Thanks Hannes Hapke that makes a ton of sense. As a follow up, how do you typically monitor and maintain performance for these models as they evolve once pipelined into production?

Hannes Hapke

We have built a ton of custom code at Digits since I haven’t found a managed tool for that purpose which checked all boxes. It all ties back to model feedback loops to check if the model predictions performed as the users expected.

Kyle Shannon

What kinds of challenges do you think prevent a tool like this from existing? or is it just a matter of time?

Matthew Emerick

When do you think ML pipelines should be learned in relation to learning ML itself?

Hannes Hapke

Hi Matthew Emerick I think it depends where the person is coming from. For a DevOps person, it could be their entry point to the ML world, esp. if they have data engineering experience. Data scientists would probably first learn ML and then focus on the productization of their models.

Matthew Emerick

Do you any ideas for another book?

Hannes Hapke

A variety of good books was released recently:

  • Machine Learning Design Patterns (really love this book)
  • Kubeflow Operations Guide
  • Kubeflow for Machine Learning
    All publications provide a good ML Eng overview.
Matthew Emerick

I meant that you would write. 🙂

Hannes Hapke

Oh, haha. Yes, TBA :)

Matthew Emerick

What do you of the use of pipelines for AI in general?

Hannes Hapke

I am not sure what you mean. Do you mind rephrasing your question? Thank you.

Matthew Emerick

Do you see a use for pipeline for other AI techniques such as genetic algorithms, decision trees, expert systems, cognitive architectures, multiagent systems, etc?

Hannes Hapke

I think the concepts apply to all trained models.

Shankar Somayajula

Hannes Hapke What do you think of this potential advantage of implementing pipelines via sql? Needless to add, i’m a sql addict :D
If we’re able to consolidate the entire pipeline processing into a (complicated, multi-stage) sql then it’s possible to inject some flexibility into the process by deferring config/ETL (or ELT) decisions to runtime and allowing the users freedom to experiment with what suits them. I understand that this wont scale well but many big data use cases start big but do devolve into small/normal data by the time it gets into the Data Scientists ambit once the scope of the analysis is defined and implemented.
E.g: One may want to see the profile of Customers who buy or responded to a mail in campaign dealing with two products sold as part of a promotion in a region/country/state like Aus or NZ (say)… once we establish the necessary scoping filters of analysis this could eminently be in the realm of sql based analysis. Now if we are able to do this entire pipeline of analysis via sql (say, db views for data prep to cover the etl ot elt part) then via a BI tool we can give freedom to the analyst to decide the time period between which the two products could have been bought (perhaps same customer bought the two products on different days 8 days apart, i.e. not in same transaction … this can be a hit or a miss depending on analyst/business user discretion/decision to consider 8 days separation between events as ok or not).
An interactive UI can allow user to leverage parameterized sql by having a sliding bar from 1 (same day) to 10 days and see the effect of the setting on key Campaign Metrics. If we did this in the ETL or ELT cycle or in the pipeline then that decision is baked in at say 7 days and needs a new instance of the pipeline to modify the same from 7 to 10. Business users need to use Notebooks or similar tools to modify the setting. Does the what-if tool allow for such flexibility? I know it gives flexibility in the analysis part, the data processing part which is post load. Can it reach through to give some flxibility/benefit pertaining to the load/transform part of the pipeline too?

Hannes Hapke

Hi Shankar Somayajula. The What if tool is designed for post training model analysis. It helps you perform a model sensitivity analysis. I think you can filter your data to test your model with, but only in a limit fashion. I don’t think the WIT can use the feature engineering from TFTransform. Having said this, TFMA wasn’t able to use it until recently too, so maybe the tool is already able to do so. But I think you are looking for a different tool, IMO.

Shankar Somayajula

Thanks for the response. Hannes Hapke

ankush khanna

Hi Hannes Hapke
How is building ml pipeline different from building data pipelines? And what can a data engineer focused on building ETL pipeline move to building ML pipelines?

Hannes Hapke

I think they share a variety of properties, for example scalability, task chaining, DAG, etc.
At the same time, they are also very different. For example, in a data pipeline, your main concern is the final outcome (e.g. a transformed dataset). You probably don’t want to store snapshots of the artifacts from the individual steps. But this is critical for ML pipelines to repeat and reproduce ML models.

Hannes Hapke

Hi ankush khanna 🙂

ankush khanna

Thanks for the answer. What can be some focus points for data engineers to learn more about ML pipeline?
Any open source solutions, tools, languages, you suggest?

Hannes Hapke

I think TFX does a god job at introducing the necessary steps in ML pipelines. From there, you could take a look at the orchestration of such pipelines.

Clara Matos

Hi Hannes Hapke 👋
Thank you for taking the time to answer questions!
During the data ingestion stage where can we draw the line between what is a data pipeline and what is feature engineering? When using tabular data from different sources (such as different tables in a data warehouse or relational database) is combining the data part of the data pipeline? If so from your experience is it commonly performed by data engineers? And then the machine learning engineers perform feature engineering on top of the final dataset?
When should the validation take place? On top of the final dataset or on top of each table used to build the final dataset?
From your perspective what is the best tool/approach to building a good (and scalable) data pipeline to feed a machine learning model? How do you address training-serving skew? (When serving, the incoming data should go through the same data pipeline as during training?)

Hannes Hapke

Hi Clara Matos, I am sorry for my belated reply.

Hannes Hapke

what is a data pipeline and what is feature engineering?
I would transform any data in a data pipeline which can be reused by other models. Model specific transformations belong in the feature engineering in my opinion.

Hannes Hapke

Q: If so from your experience is it commonly performed by data engineers? And then the machine learning engineers perform feature engineering on top of the final dataset?
A: I think so, however, my colleagues at Digits are going back and forth. Data engineerings transition to ML projects and vice versa.

Hannes Hapke

Q: When should the validation take place? On top of the final dataset or on top of each table used to build the final dataset?
A: I would perform it on the final dataset. Why? Because you want to capture all stats/schema changes in respect to the model.
Checking each table seems a bit more like a data quality task to me. What do you think?

Hannes Hapke

Q: How do you address training-serving skew?
A: TFTransform 🙂 I always try to build the feature engineering on top / inside of the actual model

Hannes Hapke

TFTransform is really amazing and a great help for our team.

Hannes Hapke

Q: From your perspective what is the best tool/approach to building a good (and scalable) data pipeline to feed a machine learning model?
A: We are using Beam for our data and ML pipelines

Clara Matos

Checking each table seems a bit more like a data quality task to me. What do you think?
I see what you mean. Do you think tfx data validation is also suited for data quality checks in data pipelines?

Clara Matos

Also, have you ever integrated scikit-learn models within a tfx pipeline?

Clara Matos

and thank you for taking the time to answer the questions 😃

Hannes Hapke

Anyone interested in the internals of TFX, join the special interest discussions here: https://github.com/tensorflow/tfx-addons

Hannes Hapke

We have a mailing list and bi-weekly meetings to chat about TFX, and addon components. The discussion is open to anyone, beginners (very welcome) or experts of TFX

Tim Becker

Hi Hannes Hapke I just finished chapter 2 of your book and it seems to be very useful. As you discuss in the book, so far, I have been creating my own custom solutions. Using TFX seems to be much easier than I initially thought. I have been a little hesitant to look at libraries for pipelines. I thought, it is difficult to practice it on my own, because I need datasets that are continuously updated, and it might be much more work than the usual data science project. But I was probably wrong, and I would like to ask you some related question:

  • Do you have ideas for toy projects that have a reasonable size with data that is regularly updated?
  • If you already have a model, which would be the parts of the pipeline you would focus on first? In your experience, what is the most crucial part of the pipeline. Where does a data science team benefits the most?
  • If you build, for example, a model for stock trading, which metrics would you use to monitor that your model is still performing? Do you monitor your return? Or the error? Maybe, the drift of the error?

    Thank you very much!
Hannes Hapke

Hi Tim Becker

  • Q: Do you have ideas for toy projects that have a reasonable size with data that is regularly updated?
    A: I would check for some time series data, e.g. stock prices. There are probably free sources which are updated daily. This would be a great way of showing the full benefit of Ml Pipelines
Hannes Hapke
  • Q: If you already have a model, which would be the parts of the pipeline you would focus on first? In your experience, what is the most crucial part of the pipeline. Where does a data science team benefits the most?
    A: I would start with the data validation (e.g. with TFDV or Great expectations). It is easy to use, and immediately provides great value. Data scientists will probably find interesting snippets about their data sets with such tools. Then I would on the model analysis part to compare model versions. Once the data scientists see the value in such models, focus on the automation of the entire end-to-end process. Here you could use TFX for.
Hannes Hapke
  • Q: If you build, for example, a model for stock trading, which metrics would you use to monitor that your model is still performing? Do you monitor your return? Or the error? Maybe, the drift of the error?
    A: The stock trading problem sounds like a time series forecasting issue to me. In such a case, I would pay attention to the mean and std, calculate it for a window of 30 days. check if your std is changing drastically. For classification problems, I would pay attention to the distribution of the your labels. At Digits, we do monitor the predictions and the feedback very closely. TFDV can help you to calculate the L-0 norm as an option to detect if your data moved more than X%
Tim Becker

Hannes Hapke thank you very much! I will definitely give it a try 🙂

Hannes Hapke

Let me know how it goes.

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