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I have been thinking about this a bit and also some time ago in BetterExplained books I read this interesting take on exponents being likened to microwave ovens which led me to this…


If we have cars and would like to know what fitting an AC will do to its price in absolute terms - how many dollars more it will be worth - we would just use prices in dollars.

But then it is as if we were saying that whether we stick an AC in a jaguar or in a Fiat 126p
(Tom Hanks seems to have a thing for them though do not know the whole story)

we would want to be able to predict the difference in value - here 1000$ more and here 1000$ doesn’t make sense (you can buy 1/60 of a jag for 1000$ and probably like 3 or 4 fiats 126p :wink: )

So we ask a different question - with respect to the base price, how much will fitting an AC increase it? 0.1 on the logarithmic scale will ‘grow’ both values by the same amount relative to their starting magnitude!

Maybe this has some more significance that I fail to notice yet and also apologies if this was explained in a lecture already but I am a bit behind, even more so on the notebooks than watching the lectures.

This is crazy:
Here, have 40$, can you grow it for me by half?
ah wait… but I’d like you to grow it by half… and then by half again… (this mimics getting an AC and then adding a set of rims onto the cars / bulldozers which prices we are are predicting)
0.4054 always adds a half!!! OMG I can’t believe I didn’t know that.

BTW this logarithmic thing is witchcraft.

Lesson3 - Why using log of sales in Rossmann exercice and overfitting?
(Jeremy Howard) #230

They are witches’ secret sauce.

(Tuatini GODARD) #231

Sure, well at least I think it has to do with my understanding of the maths. You know in lesson when you told “you really need to know how log and exp are working and what are their useful properties”. I mean, I understand what they do but I still don’t get why we would use them, in what situation. Basically I don’t have the intuition even if I learn about them. Same thing goes when you were giving these examples with the standard deviation, the stderr, the t-distribution, or why the number 22 etc…

I’m someone who learn my “mimic” or by finding patterns so I try to look for a case where a given concept make sense and in what context it does not. Then I try to find the relationship between what worked and what didn’t.

If someone tell me: “Hey here you can transform the dependent value with np.log1p() because that’s what we will use in the loss function so we better just do this now”. Well I won’t learn anything from that, I still don’t know why we do that, why we would want to use log1p now instead of transforming the variable at the very end when you fit it to the loss function etc… So I’ll just say: “Ok lets assume the guy is right” and then another concept come on top of that one and now I get lost…

It’s probably just me and maybe the course on linear algebra from Rachel will help me a lot with that. Maybe I should spend more time understanding the “basics” concepts of LA before going further into the course.

But as you asked me for a constructive feedback I hope it helped you understand my context and maybe, maybe, I’m not the only one in that situation (I hope so :stuck_out_tongue: ).

(I’m just reading @radek post on logarithms it seems to be what I was looking for haha)

(Jeremy Howard) #232

You can totally skip that bit - I mention in the lesson that it’s just a little faster than training the model 5 times and seeing how much the validation set varies. Also, this section of the class is just a little deeper dive into the question of validation set construction, and isn’t necessary to understand for anything else. So I’d say just ignore it for now! :slight_smile:

Is there anything else in the lesson you didn’t follow?


Is there anything special about using base e for taking the log of values? If I understand it correctly, we could be taking logarithms of any base just as well, it is just that their scale (for lack of a better word) would be different? Meaning, to grow something by 50%, we might need to add differently sized chunks depending on the log base?


(Aditya) #234

The Euler number e or Logex is frequently used in mathematics because solutions of mathematical problems comes out naturally either as ef(x) or logef(x). The use of base 2 or base 10 in these cases will produce clumsy expressions.

(1) Integral of 1/cos(x) = loge(secx + tanx).

(2) Integral of 1/(1-x2) = (1/2)Loge[(1+x)/(1-x)]

(3) Integral of 1/(1+x2)1/2 = Sinh-1x = loge[x+ sqrt(1+x2)]

(4) The solution of the LODE y’’ -(a+b)y’ + aby = 0 is y =Aeax + Bebx .

(5) The expression for ex is quite neat ex = 1 +x + x2/2! + x3/3! + …xn/n! +…

(6) The expression for loge(1+x) is also neat and memorizable. Loge(1+x) = x -x2/2 + x3/3+ …

(7) The function eax is easily integrated to obtain the neat expression eax/a.and differentiated to get aeax.

(8) What do you say about Euler’s celebrated formula eiπ + 1 = 0. Quite incredible! The sum of a complex quantity and an integer equals zero

(9) eiθ = cosθ + isinθ. The examples are innumerable. When base e is used in mathematics the answers come out naturally. That is why is referred to as the natural logarithm. Using base 2 or 10 requires additional coefficients

(Ishan Anand) #235

To expand upon point (7) in the detailed answer by @ecdrid, the function $e^x$ when differentiated gives you the exact same function back!!
Optimization in general involves derivatives all around and using $e$ to take exponents (or logarithms which is the inverse operation) simplifies this and reduces the number of scaling coefficients you need to keep track of.


Thank you for the replies :slight_smile:

What I would like to know is whether there is anything special about natural logs that makes us pick them for this one particular scenario - when we take a log of a continuous variable we are trying to predict (given that we do this as we are interested in ratios and not absolute differences in magnitudes).

My guess is that there is no difference what base for the log we pick. Any other base for the log would be just as good for expressing the ratios. But asking as I am not sure and would like to confirm that I am on the right track here.

(Aditya) #237

Actually it’s the constants which we need to worry about …

bit kind of Manual work or do unnecessary divides…

(Ishan Anand) #238

Apologies, I didn’t quite get you the first time!

You;re absolutely correct in that the choice of base you use to take logarithms makes no difference. Logarithms follow a very convenient property :slight_smile:
np.log(x)/np.log(2) = np.log2(x)

Exactly! The relation above means ratio of the chunk sizes will always be the same number for a given pair of bases.

(Tuatini GODARD) #239

Yep I get the whole idea but even if people tell me “skip that part and assume X” I just can’t. If I don’t know how it works under the hoods I just can’t resign to do it. But yeah I got the whole idea of the lesson don’t worry :slight_smile:

Is there anything else in the lesson you didn’t follow?

Thanks for asking. I was able to understand the “big picture” of the lesson but I still want to know the little details I wasn’t able to catch as I said in my previous post. But @radek explanations helped me a lot :slight_smile:

(Aditya) #240

How can we combine deep learning and Random Forest?

(Gerardo Garcia) #241

@jeremy on

When you are talking about feature interpretation.
The section where you talk about NaN and categorical variables seems clear to me.
NaN becomes an additional category.

What about NaN and continuous values lie a temperature, preasure, distance?
Like a real missing value

(James Requa) #242

+1 I’ve always wanted to know this…or DL combined with Gradient Boosting (i.e. XGBoost)

(Phani Srikanth) #243

Isn’t it about combining the results from different models? The models could be anything; Logistic, KNN, Naive Bayes, XGBoost, DL etc.

A rough rubric:

  1. Use different models on the same training dataset and generate predictions on test dataset.
  2. If you trained 5 models in step 1, you’ll now have 5 prediction arrays, for test dataset, from each model
  3. Now, a simple way of mixing them is take a
    (i) hard voting - look for the majority label for each record of 5 predictions - equiweighted averaging
    (ii) soft voting - because a couple of those 5 models were better than the other 3, give them higher weights - weighted averaging
    (iii) stacking
  4. Generate final prediction for each record in test.

A much more detailed description with visual summaries is very well described in this notebook.

(Aditya) #244

(Jeremy Howard) #245

We discussed this in the previous lessons - take a look at the source of proc_df to see how we handle it.

(Aditya) #246

When going through the
nbs lesson2_rf_interpretation,

def get_preds(t): return t.predict(X_valid)
%time preds = np.stack(parallel_trees(m, get_preds))
np.mean(preds[:,0]), np.std(preds[:,0])

This code block generates these exceptions-:

Exception in thread Thread-41:
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "C:\ProgramData\Anaconda3\lib\", line 916, in _bootstrap_inner
  File "C:\ProgramData\Anaconda3\lib\", line 864, in run
    self._target(*self._args, **self._kwargs)
  File "C:\ProgramData\Anaconda3\lib\concurrent\futures\", line 295, in _queue_management_worker
  File "C:\ProgramData\Anaconda3\lib\concurrent\futures\", line 253, in shutdown_worker
  File "C:\ProgramData\Anaconda3\lib\multiprocessing\", line 129, in put_nowait
    return self.put(obj, False)
  File "C:\ProgramData\Anaconda3\lib\multiprocessing\", line 83, in put
    raise Full

BrokenProcessPool                         Traceback (most recent call last)
<timed exec> in <module>()

D:\Github\fastai\courses\ml1\fastai\ in parallel_trees(m, fn, n_jobs)
     19 def parallel_trees(m, fn, n_jobs=8):
---> 20         return list(ProcessPoolExecutor(n_jobs).map(fn, m.estimators_))
     22 def draw_tree(t, df, size=10, ratio=0.6, precision=0):

C:\ProgramData\Anaconda3\lib\concurrent\futures\ in _chain_from_iterable_of_lists(iterable)
    364     careful not to keep references to yielded objects.
    365     """
--> 366     for element in iterable:
    367         element.reverse()
    368         while element:

C:\ProgramData\Anaconda3\lib\concurrent\futures\ in result_iterator()
    584                     # Careful not to keep a reference to the popped future
    585                     if timeout is None:
--> 586                         yield fs.pop().result()
    587                     else:
    588                         yield fs.pop().result(end_time - time.time())

C:\ProgramData\Anaconda3\lib\concurrent\futures\ in result(self, timeout)
    430                 raise CancelledError()
    431             elif self._state == FINISHED:
--> 432                 return self.__get_result()
    433             else:
    434                 raise TimeoutError()

C:\ProgramData\Anaconda3\lib\concurrent\futures\ in __get_result(self)
    382     def __get_result(self):
    383         if self._exception:
--> 384             raise self._exception
    385         else:
    386             return self._result

BrokenProcessPool: A process in the process pool was terminated abruptly while the future was running or pending.

(10.392261561614122, 0.41180742095175948)

[L14] Problem with futures and ProcessPoolExecutor
(James Requa) #247

Yea those are all just examples of ensembling which I’m aware of. I’m actually more interested in for example taking the output from a DL model and feeding that as an input into RF or Gradient Boosting Trees.

(Jeremy Howard) #248

We’ll talk about this a bit tonight, and in future lessons :slight_smile: