Parallel Mechanics

ML-Ensemble is designed to provide an easy user interface. But it is also designed to be extremely flexible, all the wile providing maximum concurrency at minimal memory consumption. The lower-level API that builds the ensemble and manages the computations is constructed in as modular a fashion as possible.

The low-level API introduces a computational graph-like environment that you can directly exploit to gain further control over your ensemble. In fact, building your ensemble through the low-level API is almost as straight forward as using the high-level API. In this tutorial, we will walk through the core ParallelProcessing class.

The purpose of the ParallelProcessing class is to provide a streamlined interface for scheduling and allocating jobs in a nested sequence of tasks. The typical case is a sequence of Layer instances where the output of one layer becomes the input to the next. While the layers must therefore be fitted sequentially, each layer should be fitted in parallel. We might be interested in propagating some of the features from one layer to the next, in which case we need to take care of the array allocation.

ParallelProcessing API

Basic map ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨

In the simplest case, we have a caller that has a set of task``s that needs to be evaluated in parallel. For instance, the ``caller might be a Learner, with each task being a fit job for a given cross-validation fold. In this simple case, we want to perform an embarrassingly parallel for-loop of each fold, which we can achieve with the map method of the ParallelProcessing class.

from mlens.parallel import ParallelProcessing, Job, Learner
from mlens.index import FoldIndex
from mlens.utils.dummy import OLS

import numpy as np


X = np.arange(20).reshape(10, 2)
y = np.random.rand(10)

indexer = FoldIndex(folds=2)
learner = Learner(estimator=OLS(),

manager = ParallelProcessing(n_jobs=-1)

out =, 'fit', X, y, return_preds=True)



[[0.3665536 ]
 [0.3601518 ]
 [0.3569509 ]
 [0.35375   ]

Stacking a set of parallel jobs

Suppose instead that we have a sequence of learners, where we want to fit each on the errors of the previous learner. We can achieve this by using stack method and a preprocessing pipeline for computing the errors. First, we need to construct a preprocessing class to transform the input, which will be the preceding learner’s predictions, into errors.

from mlens.parallel import Transformer, Pipeline
from mlens.utils.dummy import Scale
from sklearn.base import BaseEstimator, TransformerMixin

def error_scorer(p, y):
    return np.abs(p - y)

class Error(BaseEstimator, TransformerMixin):

    """Transformer that computes the errors of a base learners"""

    def __init__(self, scorer):
        self.scorer = scorer

    def fit(self, X, y):
        return self

    def transform(self, X, y):
        return self.scorer(X, y), y

Now, we construct a sequence of tasks to compute, where the output of one task will be the input to the next. Hence, we want a sequence of the form [learner, transformer, ..., learner]:

tasks = []
for i in range(3):
    if i != 0:
        pipeline = Pipeline([('err', Error(error_scorer))], return_y=True)
        transformer = Transformer(
            name='sc-%i' % (i + 1)

    learner = Learner(
        preprocess='sc-%i' % (i+1) if i != 0 else None,
        name='ols-%i' % (i + 1)

To fit the stack, we call the stack method on the manager, and since each learner must have access to their transformer, we set split=False (otherwise each task will have a separate sub-cache, sealing them off from each other).

out = manager.stack(
    tasks, 'fit', X, y, return_preds=True, split=False)



 [0.235679  ]

If we instead want to append these errors as features, we can simply alter our transformer to concatenate the errors to the original data. Alternatively, we can automate the process by instead using the mlens.ensemble.Sequential API.

Manual initialization and processing

Under the hood, both map and stack first call initialize on the manager, followed by a call to process with some default arguments. For maximum control, we can manually do the initialization and processing step. When we initialize, an instance of Job is created that collect arguments relevant for of the job as well as handles for data to be used. For instance, we can specify that we want the predictions of all layers, as opposed to just the final layer:

out = manager.initialize(
    'fit', X, y, None, return_preds=['ols-1', 'ols-3'], stack=True, split=False)

The initialize method primarily allocates memory of input data and puts it on the job instance. Not that if the input is a string pointing to data on disk, initialize will attempt to load the data into memory. If the backend of the manger is threading, keeping the data on the parent process is sufficient for workers to reach it. With multiprocessing as the backend, data will be memory-mapped to avoid serialization.

The initialize method returns an out dictionary that specified what type of output we want when running the manager on the assigned job. To run the manager, we call process with out out pointer:

out = manager.process(tasks, out)


[array([[0.3665536 ],
       [0.3601518 ],
       [0.3569509 ],
       [0.35375   ],
       [0.63815415]], dtype=float32), array([[0.22054635],
       [0.235679  ],
       [0.09709236]], dtype=float32)]

The output now is a list of arrays, the first contains the same predictions as we got in the map call, the last is the equivalent to the predicitons we got in the stack call. Note that this functionality is available also in the stack and map calls.

Memory management

When running the manager, it will read and write to memory buffers. This is less of a concern when the threading backend is used, as data is kept in the parent process. But when data is loaded from file path, or when multiprocessing is used, we want to clean up after us. Thus, when we are through with the manager, it is important to call the clear method. This will however destroy any ephemeral data stored on the instance.


..warning:: The clear method will remove any files in the specified path. If the path specified in the initialize call includes files other than those generated in the process call, these will ALSO be removed. ALWAYS use a clean temporary cache for processing jobs.

To minimize the risk of forgetting this last step, the ParallelProcessing class can be used as context manager, automatically cleaning up the cache when exiting the context:

learner = Learner(estimator=OLS(), indexer=indexer)

with ParallelProcessing() as mananger:
    manager.stack(learner, 'fit', X, y, split=False)
    out = manager.stack(learner, 'predict', X, split=False)

Total running time of the script: ( 0 minutes 0.817 seconds)

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