So, you want to create your custom pipeline with fastai

(Aleksandr) #1

I started to write this post when my very first fastai based pipeline with custom Dataset, DataLoader and Learner was trained on background. I went through much of pain to do that and I want to help those of you who go the same way at the first time.

If you want to create with fastai something that was not covered in Jeremy’s awesome DL course, you’ll need to understand a fastai structure first, so my first suggest is to look at this this mindmap created by @shaun1 (link to his post).

This will give you some big picture but this is not all.

For pipeline you need:


  • Base fastai class - BaseDataset
  • Knows how to open your data by index
  • Example: feed him with list of images filenames and list of labels and create get_x func that returns image and get_y func that return label im np.array format


  • Base fastai class - DataLoader
  • Knows how to read data from Dataset and create batches from it


  • Base fastai class - ModelData
  • Contains your DataLoaders, path to your data, transformation etc


  • Base class - nn.Module
  • Pure pytorch model of whatever architecture you want

Loss function

  • The functions that calculate loss between Model output and target


  • Your favorite optimizer (Adam, SGD, RMSProp etc)


  • Base fastai class - Stepper
  • Makes optimizer steps during training process


  • Base classs - torch Sampler
  • Sample your data somehow during training (ex. - balancing classes)


  • Base fastai class - Learner
  • Knows how to learn your Model with given ModelData, Loss function, Optimizer, Stepper and Sampler

Simple steps to create your custom pipeline

NOTE: You may have not to create a new class, existing class may be ok for you, so check this first.

  1. Create a Dataset, make sure it returns what you want
  2. Create a DataLoader for your dataset
  3. Create a ModelData
  4. Create a Model and try it on some sample data from your DataLoader
  5. Grab some suitable Optimizer, Loss function and create a Learner with them (you can also create your custom Stepper and Sampler for this)
  6. Try to call
  7. Get some errors and get mad :smiley:
  8. Chill out, put ipdb.set_trace() everywhere you can (for my experience the most useful parts are beginning of your models forward() functions and beginning of loss function)
  9. Debug untill it works

I hope this little guide help some of you. If you have something useful to add, write it to me or in this topic, I will add it to this post.

(Bobak Farzin) #2

I found it pretty hard to navigate the objects that were necessary to do this. So, I produced this Jupyter Notebook as a gist so that others could navigate more easily when you encounter this problem.

  • I picked a toy problem for multi-classification so that you can see how to get numpy data into a learner and produce results.
  • I had a multi-classification problem, so I used that as my example
  • This is a trivial sized MLP to solve the problem.
  • You need to build two objects to make this work:
  1. A ModelData object to wrap your model data from
  2. What I termed a LearnerModelBuilder() which returns a list of models (in our case 1 model)

Let me know if this helps anyone to solve their applied problem with!!


Hi Bobak,

thanks for sharing your notebook! Being able to use some fastai tools such as the learning rate finder with custom models/data/loss function would be very helpful. However, with the current version of fastai (1.x), see, your code doesn’t work anymore. For instance, I think ArraysIndexDataset doesn’t exist anymore. It would be really cool if you could update your code for the current version of fastai.