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Why fast.ai switched from Keras and Tensorflow to Pytorch and built their own Framework on top of it

Christoffer Björkskog 0

In the new fast.ai course they will be using pytorch instead of Tensorflow, and has built a framework on top of it to make it even easier to use than Keras.

Pytorch is a dynamic instead of static deep learning library and Jeremy Writes that nearly all of the top 10 Kaggle competition winners now have been using Pytorch.

In the part 2 of fast.ai course the focus was to allow student so read and implement recent research papers, and pytorch made this easier due to its flexibility. It allowed them to try out things you could not do as easily with Tensorflow. It also makes it easier to understand what is going on in the algorithms as with Tensorflow, the computation becomes a black box once you send it to the GPU.

Most models trains faster on Pytorch than on Tensorflow and are easier to debug contributing to faster development iterations.

The reason they built a framework on top of Pytorch is that pytorch comes with less defaults than Keras. They want the course one to be accessible for students with little or no experience in Machine learning. Also they wanted to help avoid common pitfalls (such as not shuffling the data when needed to or vice versa) and get you going much faster, improving where Keras was lacking. They also built in many best practices that Keras was lacking. Jeremy writes that:

“We built models that are faster, more accurate, and more complex than those using Keras, yet were written with much less code.” – Jeremy Howard

The approach is to encapsulate all important data choices such as preprocessing, data augmentation, test/training/validation sets, multiclass/singleclass classification, regression and so on into Object-Oriented Classes.

“Suddenly, we were dramatically more productive, and made far less errors, because everything that could be automated, was automated.” – Jeremy Howard

Jeremy thinks that deep learning will see the same kind of library/framework explosion that front end developers have been used to during that last years. So the library you learn today will probably be obsolete in a year or two.

99,3% accuracy on dogs and cats with 3 lines of code is not bad:

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