Discussion:
Estimator serialisability
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Miroslav Zoričák
2016-07-14 07:24:40 UTC
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Hi everybody,

I have been using scikit-learn for a while, but I have run into a problem
that does not seem to have any good solutions.

Basically I would like to:
- build my pipeline in a Jupyter Notebook
- persist it (to json or hdf5)
- load it in production and execute the prediction there

The problem is that for persisting estimators such as the RobustScaler for
example, the recommended way is to pickle them. Now I don't want to do
this, for three reasons:

- Security, pickle is potentially dangerous
- Portability, I can't unpickle it in scala for example
- Pickle stores a lot of details and information which is not strictly
necessary to reconstruct the RobustScaler and therefore might prevent it
from being reconstructed correctly if a different version is used.

Another option I would seem to have is to access the private members of
each serialiser that I want to use and store them on my own, but this is
inconvenient, because:

- It forces me as a user to understand how the robust scaler works and how
it stores its internal state, which is generally bad for usability
- The internal implementation could change, leaving me to fix my
serialisers (see #1)
- I would need to do this for each new Estimator I decide to use

Now, to me it seems the solution is quite obvious:
Write a Mixin or update the BaseEstimator class to include two additional
methods:

to_dict() - will return a dictionary such, that when passed to
from_dict(dictionary) - it will reconstruct the original object

these dictionaries could be passed to the JSON module or the YAML module or
stored elsewhere. We could provide more convenience methods to do this for
the user.

In case of the RobustScaler the dict would look something like:
{ "center": "0,0", "scale": "1.0"}

Now the bulk of the work is writing these serialisers and deserialisers for
all of the estimators, but that can be simplified by adding a method that
could do that automatically via reflection and the estimator would only
need to specify which fields to serialise.

I am happy to start working on this and create a pull request on Github,
but before I do that I wanted to get some initial thoughts and reactions
from the community, so please let me know what you think.

Best Regards,
Miroslav Zoricak
--
Best Regards,
Miroslav Zoricak
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