Saturday, November 28, 2020

Generating art with Tensorflow

tl:dr; Thought-provoking, computer-generated art

That is computer generated: the output of transfer learning using Tensorflow.

I was playing with some transfer learning, training a convolutional model on famous works of art, and applying the style to my own photographs when I realized the process could be done in reverse. So instead of taking the style of a famous artist, and applying it to my photographs, I've taken the style of my photographs and applied it to famous art. Here are the two pictures, the content is a famous Kandinsky image, and the style applied was that of a tiger in San Francisco.

Here's another. A famous Monet that has been modified with the style of a giraffe from the same zoo. The original image is pretty serene, and I love its transformation into a drug-fueled nightmare.

And finally, my favorite, two mundane pictures that together make evocative art.

The content image is from the page linked below, and the lion is my own photograph. Either picture is average by itself.

A computer and a human are more superior at chess than a computer alone, or a human alone. The same can be said about art. A human combined with a well-written software can make something amazing. 

This is based on the Tensorflow style transfer tutorial.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Best Practices with Tensorflow: Test All Your Inputs Early

Tensorflow model training can take a long time. Depending on the machine, even the first epoch can take many hours to run. In this case, the remaining arguments like validation_data are only evaluated much later. Incorrectly formed input will be detected many hours later, deep in the stack, with incomprehensible errors. By this time, you might have forgotten what the shapes of the input or their expected data type is. You want to detect failures early, when you run rather than a day later.

One easy way to avoid this is to wrap all calls in a single method, which tests itself out with a smaller input. Here's the idea. If you have training data (X_train and y_train), and validation data (X_valid and y_valid), you take the first 10 observations, and call the training method itself.

This run will be fast, because you are training a model with a tiny set of observations, and the validation is done with a tiny set of values too.

It also ensures that any changes to the line are correctly reflected both in the test_shapes run and in the real run. Any training done on the model is minor: a real run with the full data and full set of epochs will change the model weights, so this is harmless. In case you are using a pre-trained model, you can clone the model before trying the test run.

If you are using data generators, then the same mechanism can be used. Create a new tfdata object with a few observations both on the training data, and another with the validation data. Pass that to your model training function.

def fit_e9_model(model, X_train, y_train,
                 X_valid, y_valid, epochs,
                 batch_size=32, verbose=0,

    # This fails after a day, when the validation data is incorrectly shaped.                              
    # This is a terrible idea. Failures should be early.                                                   

    # The best way to guard against it is to run a small fit run with                                      
    # a tiny data size, and a tiny validation data size to ensure that                                     
    # the data is correctly shaped.                                                                        

    if (test_shapes):
        print ("Testing with the first 10 elements of the input")
        X_small = X_train[:10,:,:,:]
        y_small = y_train[:10]
        X_valid_small = X_valid[:10,:,:,:]
        y_valid_small = y_valid[:10]
        # Call ourselves again with a smaller input. This confirms                                         
        # that the two methods are calling the same .fit() method, and                                     
        # that the input is correctly shaped in the original method too.                                   
        fit_e9_model(model, X_small, y_small,
                     X_valid_small, y_valid_small,
                     epochs=epochs, verbose=verbose,

    # If that worked, then do a full run.                                                                  
    history_conv =, y=y_train, batch_size=batch_size,
                             validation_data=(X_valid, y_valid),
                             epochs=epochs, verbose=verbose)
    return history_conv

history = fit_e9_model(model, X_train, y_train, X_valid, y_valid, epochs=10)

Sunday, November 22, 2020

User-facing tools should have user-understandable errors

Here's some simple Tensorflow code to create a CNN, and train it. 
import tensorflow as tf
import tensorflow.keras as keras

def create_model(optimizer="sgd"):
    deep_model = keras.models.Sequential([
        keras.layers.Conv2D(64, 7, activation="relu", padding="same", 
                            input_shape=[1, 28, 28], name="input"),
        keras.layers.Conv2D(128, 3, activation="relu", padding="same", 
        keras.layers.Conv2D(128, 3, activation="relu", padding="same", 

        keras.layers.MaxPooling2D(1, name="secondPool"),
        keras.layers.Conv2D(256, 3, activation="relu", padding="same", 
        keras.layers.Conv2D(256, 3, activation="relu", padding="same", 

        keras.layers.MaxPooling2D(1, name="thirdPool"),

        keras.layers.Dense(128, activation="relu", name="pre-bottneck"),

        keras.layers.Dropout(0.5, name="bottleneckDropout"),
        keras.layers.Dense(64, activation="relu", name="bottleneck"),

        keras.layers.Dropout(0.5, name="outputDropout"),
        keras.layers.Dense(10, activation="softmax", name="output"),

    return deep_model

def fit_model(model, X_train, y_train, X_valid, y_valid, epochs):
    history_conv =, y_train, validation_data=[X_valid, y_valid],
                             epochs=epochs, verbose=0)
    return history_conv

def plot_history(history, name):
    c10.plot_training(history, name, show=True)
model = create_model()
history = fit_model(model, X_train, y_train, X_valid, y_valid, epochs=10)
plot_history(history, "naive_deep_mnist")

When you run it, it causes this enormous error
ValueError                                Traceback (most recent call last)
<ipython-input-26-95a7830ebd3c> in <module>
     42 model = create_model()
---> 43 history = fit_model(model, X_train, y_train, X_valid, y_valid, epochs=10)
     44 plot_history(history, "naive_deep_mnist")

<ipython-input-26-95a7830ebd3c> in fit_model(model, X_train, y_train, X_valid, y_valid, epochs)
     35 def fit_model(model, X_train, y_train, X_valid, y_valid, epochs):
---> 36     history_conv =, y_train, validation_data=[X_valid, y_valid], epochs=epochs, verbose=0)
     37     return history_conv

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/keras/engine/ in _method_wrapper(self, *args, **kwargs)
    106   def _method_wrapper(self, *args, **kwargs):
    107     if not self._in_multi_worker_mode():  # pylint: disable=protected-access
--> 108       return method(self, *args, **kwargs)
    110     # Running inside `run_distribute_coordinator` already.

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/keras/engine/ in fit(self, x, y, batch_size, epochs, verbose, callbacks, validation_split, validation_data, shuffle, class_weight, sample_weight, initial_epoch, steps_per_epoch, validation_steps, validation_batch_size, validation_freq, max_queue_size, workers, use_multiprocessing)
   1096                 batch_size=batch_size):
   1097               callbacks.on_train_batch_begin(step)
-> 1098               tmp_logs = train_function(iterator)
   1099               if data_handler.should_sync:
   1100                 context.async_wait()

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/eager/ in __call__(self, *args, **kwds)
    778       else:
    779         compiler = "nonXla"
--> 780         result = self._call(*args, **kwds)
    782       new_tracing_count = self._get_tracing_count()

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/eager/ in _call(self, *args, **kwds)
    821       # This is the first call of __call__, so we have to initialize.
    822       initializers = []
--> 823       self._initialize(args, kwds, add_initializers_to=initializers)
    824     finally:
    825       # At this point we know that the initialization is complete (or less

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/eager/ in _initialize(self, args, kwds, add_initializers_to)
    694     self._graph_deleter = FunctionDeleter(self._lifted_initializer_graph)
    695     self._concrete_stateful_fn = (
--> 696         self._stateful_fn._get_concrete_function_internal_garbage_collected(  # pylint: disable=protected-access
    697             *args, **kwds))

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/eager/ in _get_concrete_function_internal_garbage_collected(self, *args, **kwargs)
   2853       args, kwargs = None, None
   2854     with self._lock:
-> 2855       graph_function, _, _ = self._maybe_define_function(args, kwargs)
   2856     return graph_function

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/eager/ in _maybe_define_function(self, args, kwargs)
   3212       self._function_cache.missed.add(call_context_key)
-> 3213       graph_function = self._create_graph_function(args, kwargs)
   3214       self._function_cache.primary[cache_key] = graph_function
   3215       return graph_function, args, kwargs

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/eager/ in _create_graph_function(self, args, kwargs, override_flat_arg_shapes)
   3063     arg_names = base_arg_names + missing_arg_names
   3064     graph_function = ConcreteFunction(
-> 3065         func_graph_module.func_graph_from_py_func(
   3066             self._name,
   3067             self._python_function,

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/framework/ in func_graph_from_py_func(name, python_func, args, kwargs, signature, func_graph, autograph, autograph_options, add_control_dependencies, arg_names, op_return_value, collections, capture_by_value, override_flat_arg_shapes)
    984         _, original_func = tf_decorator.unwrap(python_func)
--> 986       func_outputs = python_func(*func_args, **func_kwargs)
    988       # invariant: `func_outputs` contains only Tensors, CompositeTensors,

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/eager/ in wrapped_fn(*args, **kwds)
    598         # __wrapped__ allows AutoGraph to swap in a converted function. We give
    599         # the function a weak reference to itself to avoid a reference cycle.
--> 600         return weak_wrapped_fn().__wrapped__(*args, **kwds)
    601     weak_wrapped_fn = weakref.ref(wrapped_fn)

/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/framework/ in wrapper(*args, **kwargs)
    971           except Exception as e:  # pylint:disable=broad-except
    972             if hasattr(e, "ag_error_metadata"):
--> 973               raise e.ag_error_metadata.to_exception(e)
    974             else:
    975               raise

ValueError: in user code:

    /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/keras/engine/ train_function  *
        return step_function(self, iterator)
    /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/keras/engine/ step_function  **
        outputs =, args=(data,))
    /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/distribute/ run
        return self._extended.call_for_each_replica(fn, args=args, kwargs=kwargs)
    /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/distribute/ call_for_each_replica
        return self._call_for_each_replica(fn, args, kwargs)
    /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/distribute/ _call_for_each_replica
        return fn(*args, **kwargs)
    /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/keras/engine/ run_step  **
        outputs = model.train_step(data)
    /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/keras/engine/ train_step
        y_pred = self(x, training=True)
    /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/keras/engine/ __call__
        input_spec.assert_input_compatibility(self.input_spec, inputs,
    /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/tensorflow/python/keras/engine/ assert_input_compatibility
        raise ValueError('Input ' + str(input_index) + ' of layer ' +

    ValueError: Input 0 of layer sequential_17 is incompatible with the layer: : expected min_ndim=4, found ndim=3. Full shape received: [None, 28, 28]