Let us go over the interfaces, libraries, and tools that are indispensable to the domain of Machine Learning. Here is the list of topics that this blog will cover along with the top 15 Machine Learning Frameworks:
What is a Machine Learning framework?
In its true sense, a Machine Learning framework is a collection of pre-built components that support the process of building Machine Learning models in a more efficient and optimized manner. It uses traditional methods and is very convenient for developers to use. As far as the computation process is concerned, these frameworks provide for parallelization. Good Machine Learning frameworks tackle the complexity of Machine Learning to make it more convenient and available for developers.
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Popular Machine Learning Frameworks
Today, we will take a look at the top 15 Machine Learning tools and frameworks that you can use to make ML modeling easier.
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Amazon Machine Learning
Amazon Machine Learning is a cloud-based service that consists of visualization tools for developers at all skill levels. For predictions, Amazon ML uses simple APIs in applications; there is no need for custom code or any kind of infrastructure management for this. Amazon ML can run multiclass categorization, binary classification, or regression on the data stored in Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, or RDS to create a model. There is no need for complex algorithms with Amazon ML.
Amazon ML can:
- Measure the quality of Machine Learning models through evaluation.
- Carry out batch predictions and real-time predictions.
- Generate predictions from the patterns in the input data by using ML models.
Apache SINGA is a distributed Deep Learning platform that was developed by the NUS Big Data Systems team. It comprises an open-source ML library with a scalable architecture that can run over a wide range of hardware; due to its capability to support a number of Deep Learning models, SINGA allows users to customize the models. The programming model is quite simple and that makes the distributed training process transparent to the users.
Training a Deep Learning model or submitting a job in SINGA requires users to configure the job with their own built-in layer, updater, etc., which is not the case in Hadoop.
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TensorFlow is an open-source library, developed by Google Brain, that uses data flow graphs during numerical operations and performances. It comes with a rich set of tools and requires a sound knowledge of NumPy arrays. Batches of data called tensors are processed by a series of algorithms described by a graph that can be assembled with Python or C++. TensorFlow can run on both CPUs and GPUs.
TensorFlow is one of the most common Machine Learning frameworks. While it is simple enough to generate a prediction on a given data set, it can also handle multiple data pipelines, customization of all layers and parameters of a model, data transformations to fit the model, training multiple machines without compromising user privacy, etc.
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scikit-learn is a free ML library and is a Python Machine Learning framework. It is designed to leverage Python’s numerical and scientific libraries, namely, NumPy, SciPy, and Matplotlib. scikit-learn is open source, reusable, and has tools for several ML tasks such as:
- Linear regression
- Support vector machines (SVMs)
- K-nearest neighbor
- Stochastic gradient descent models
- Decision tree and random forest regressions
scikit-learn can also assess the performance of a model with the help of tools such as the confusion matrix. From scikit-learn, users can always move to other frameworks seamlessly.
MLlib Spark is the ML library by Apache Spark that includes common learning algorithms and utilities along with the following:
- Higher-level pipeline APIs
- Dimensionality reduction
- Collaborative filtering
- Lower-level optimization primitives
As is the case with most ML frameworks, it aims to make practical Machine Learning convenient and scalable. MLlib has APIs in Java, Python, R, and Scala.
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Torch has a fast-scripting language and is very efficient. It aims to feature maximum flexibility, simplicity, and speed while users build scientific algorithms. It supports ML algorithms that prioritize GPUs and has an underlying C/CUDA implementation and LuaJIT.
Torch includes community-driven packages in Machine Learning, parallel processing, signal processing, computer vision, image, audio, video, networking, and much more.
PyTorch was developed by FAIR, Facebook AI Research. In early 2018, the FAIR team merged Caffe2, another ML framework, into PyTorch. It is the leading competitor to TensorFlow. Engineers are often in a dilemma whether to use Tensorflow or PyTorch.. Although, they each serve their purposes but are pretty interchangeable.
Like TensorFlow, PyTorch does regression, classification, neural networks, etc. and runs on both CPUs and GPUs.
PyTorch is considered more pythonic. Where TensorFlow can get a model up and running faster and with some customization, PyTorch is considered more customizable, following a more traditional object-oriented programming approach through building classes.
PyTorch is shown to have faster training times. This speed is marginal for many users but can make a difference on large projects. PyTorch and TensorFlow are both in active development, so the speed comparison is likely to waiver back and forth between the two.
Relative to Torch, PyTorch uses Python and has no need for Lua or the Lua Package Manager.
The Shogun Machine Learning Toolbox is devoted to making machine learning tools available for free, to everyone. It provides efficient implementation of all standard ML algorithms. Shogun ensures that the underlying algorithms are transparent and accessible—a unified interface provides access via many popular programming languages, including C++, Python, Octave, R, Java, Lua, C#, and Ruby.
Spark ML can handle large matrix multiplications. This is possible because it runs in clusters and the calculations are done on different servers. Matrix multiplications require a distributed architecture for optimized speed and reduced memory issues while handling large data sets.
It is possible to use Spark ML with Spark SQL DataFrames, which is quite familiar to most Python programmers. Spark ML allows working with Spark RDD data structure instead of NumPy arrays. This eliminates some complexity from data preparation for ML algorithms as it creates Spark feature vectors.
Keeping speed, modularity, and articulation in mind, Berkeley Vision and Learning Center (BVLC) and community contributors came up with Caffe, a Deep Learning framework. Its speed makes it ideal for research experiments and production edge deployment. It comes with a BSD-authorized C++ library with a Python interface, and users can switch between CPU and GPU. Google’s DeepDream implements Caffe. However, Caffe is observed to have a steep learning curve, and it is also difficult to implement new layers with Caffe.
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Keras is built on top of TensorFlow but is not limited to it. This makes modeling simple and straightforward. This neural network library can use the same code to run both on CPU and GPU. Some of the coding processes can be simplified with Keras.
Keras can be used with:
- Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK)
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mlpack, an ML framework, is based on C++ and is specifically designed to optimize speed, scalability, and use. There are 16 available repositories, and the implementation of this ML library can be carried out with command-line executables for novice users or with the C++ API for high performance and flexibility. The algorithms provided by this framework can be later integrated into large-scale solutions.
By using C++ templates, users can avoid copying data sets; the templates work on expression optimizations that are not available in other languages.
Azure ML Studio
Azure users can build and train models by using these Machine Learning frameworks. These models can be turned into APIs for use by other services. There is 10 GB of storage per account for model data. However, any Azure storage can be connected to larger models.
Thanks to Microsoft and third parties, Azure ML Studio comes with a wide range of algorithms. There is no need for an account to try them out. You will get up to eight hours of anonymous login.
Google Cloud ML Engine
Google Cloud ML Engine aids data scientists and developers to build and run superior ML models. It uses Google’s distributed network of computers. Google speeds up the process by running the algorithm on multiple computers. Cloud ML Engine’s prediction and training services can be used separately as well as together. Its applications come in the form of solutions for food safety, quick customer emails, the presence of clouds in satellite images, etc.
Another benefit is that with Cloud ML Engine, the training data can be easily stored online in buckets in Google Cloud Storage.
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Theano was developed at the LISA lab and was released under a BSD license as a Python library that rivals the speed of the hand-crafted implementations of C. Theano is especially good with multidimensional arrays and lets users optimize mathematical performances, mostly in Deep Learning with efficient Machine Learning Algorithms. Theano uses GPUs and carries out symbolic differentiation efficiently.
Several popular packages, such as Keras and TensorFlow, are based on Theano. Unfortunately, Theano is now effectively discontinued but is still considered a good resource in ML.
Veles is written in C++ and has its applications in Deep Learning. Veles is a distributed platform that implements Python for node automation and coordination. Veles’s main focus is on flexibility and performance. By using Veles, one can analyze data sets and automatically normalize them before feeding them into the cluster. A REST API makes the trained model ready to be used for production immediately. Veles enables the training of convolutional nets, recurrent nets, fully connected nets, and many more popular topologies.
Choosing Machine Learning Frameworks
Before choosing from these Machine Learning frameworks, turn your attention to the goal at hand, Machine Learning or Deep Learning.
Deep Learning requires neural networks to analyze a range of data through several tasks. The data could be:
- Numbered data
- Categorical data
- Image data
- Language data
Machine Learning relies on mathematical and statistics-based algorithms to find patterns. Keeping that in mind, you can look up tools that enable solutions such as regression, k-mean clustering, neural networks, etc.
For choosing suitable ML frameworks, here are some of the best practices that are followed across the industry:
- Speed and storage consumption: Due to dynamic resource allocation, cloud-based models work faster. Model building, storage, or retraining does not consume user space because of cloud usage. Distributed frameworks, such as Spark MLlib, can reduce the model building time, but that adds in-memory infra cost.
- Infra cost and license cost: Python scikit-learn comes with a plethora of libraries. It is open-source, and users can save on the cost of the license as well. Google ML service has minimal charges. However, using TensorFlow or Keras for deep neural networks can add to infra cost due to GPU.
- Initial exploratory data analysis: Open-source R or Python implements various libraries for the purpose of building graphs, data crunching, and cleaning.
- Big data handling: Python is faster than R and hence, is more preferred. Tensor-based DL frameworks can seamlessly handle big data for model building. Spark MLlib’s distributed in-memory operation works well too.
- Rich source of libraries and complex algorithms: Open-source tools and frameworks have more libraries than cloud frameworks. A Python-based framework, along with TensorFlow or Keras, offers a range of ML modules including AutoML. Google ML APIs work better for complex algorithms such as image processing, word embedding, video processing, text-to-speech and speech-to-text conversions, etc.
- Model explanation and presentation: It is easier to present and explain conventional ML models, ensemble models, such as Gradient boosting or XGBoosting, and tree-based models, such as decision trees and random forest algorithms, unlike the neural network-based models, which are not transparent at all.
- Model consumption (exposing as API, Dockerization, and DB storage): By implementing the cloud infrastructure, Azure ML, Google, AWS, etc., can expose a model easily as an API. Python and R implement Flask and Shiny R respectively, to deploy a model as an API.
- Scalability: When it comes to scalability, cloud-based models are obviously more suitable than on-premises models. This is because of cloud-based models’ dynamic resource allocation, but they come at a cost.
- Model retraining: H2O is known for its AutoML concept of choosing the algorithm, tuning hyperparameters automatically, and continuously learning from new data. Google ML and scikit-learn come with great AutoML features and libraries.
- Data security: SAS is preferred for its data security. Naturally, it finds its applications majorly in the banking domain.
- Popularity index: TensorFlow is the leading Deep Learning framework. Other widely popular frameworks include Keras, Caffe, and PyTorch. scikit-learn is the most used Machine Learning framework.
- Usage levels: Spark MLlib, TensorFlow, R, and scikit-learn are mostly popular among developers. On the other hand, since coding experience is not essential for these, Microsoft Azure ML, IBM SPSS, and Rattle are the best GUI-based options for professionals with only statistical knowledge.
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The frameworks and tools listed in this blog not only democratize the algorithm development but also accelerate and simplify the process. In addition to the ML frameworks in the open source community, some of the large enterprises today, have also built their own frameworks for their in-house operations.
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