4.1. Pipeline and FeatureUnion: combining estimators

4.1.1. Pipeline: chaining estimators

Pipeline can be used to chain multiple estimators into one. This is useful as there is often a fixed sequence of steps in processing the data, for example feature selection, normalization and classification. Pipeline serves two purposes here:

Convenience and encapsulation
You only have to call fit and predict once on your data to fit a whole sequence of estimators.
Joint parameter selection
You can grid search over parameters of all estimators in the pipeline at once.
Pipelines help avoid leaking statistics from your test data into the trained model in cross-validation, by ensuring that the same samples are used to train the transformers and predictors.

All estimators in a pipeline, except the last one, must be transformers (i.e. must have a transform method). The last estimator may be any type (transformer, classifier, etc.). Usage

The Pipeline is built using a list of (key, value) pairs, where the key is a string containing the name you want to give this step and value is an estimator object:

>>> from sklearn.pipeline import Pipeline
>>> from sklearn.svm import SVC
>>> from sklearn.decomposition import PCA
>>> estimators = [('reduce_dim', PCA()), ('clf', SVC())]
>>> pipe = Pipeline(estimators)
>>> pipe 
         steps=[('reduce_dim', PCA(copy=True,...)),
                ('clf', SVC(C=1.0,...))])

The utility function make_pipeline is a shorthand for constructing pipelines; it takes a variable number of estimators and returns a pipeline, filling in the names automatically:

>>> from sklearn.pipeline import make_pipeline
>>> from sklearn.naive_bayes import MultinomialNB
>>> from sklearn.preprocessing import Binarizer
>>> make_pipeline(Binarizer(), MultinomialNB()) 
         steps=[('binarizer', Binarizer(copy=True, threshold=0.0)),
                ('multinomialnb', MultinomialNB(alpha=1.0,

The estimators of a pipeline are stored as a list in the steps attribute:

>>> pipe.steps[0]
('reduce_dim', PCA(copy=True, iterated_power='auto', n_components=None, random_state=None,
  svd_solver='auto', tol=0.0, whiten=False))

and as a dict in named_steps:

>>> pipe.named_steps['reduce_dim']
PCA(copy=True, iterated_power='auto', n_components=None, random_state=None,
  svd_solver='auto', tol=0.0, whiten=False)

Parameters of the estimators in the pipeline can be accessed using the <estimator>__<parameter> syntax:

>>> pipe.set_params(clf__C=10) 
         steps=[('reduce_dim', PCA(copy=True, iterated_power='auto',...)),
                ('clf', SVC(C=10, cache_size=200, class_weight=None,...))])

Attributes of named_steps map to keys, enabling tab completion in interactive environments:

>>> pipe.named_steps.reduce_dim is pipe.named_steps['reduce_dim']

This is particularly important for doing grid searches:

>>> from sklearn.model_selection import GridSearchCV
>>> param_grid = dict(reduce_dim__n_components=[2, 5, 10],
...                   clf__C=[0.1, 10, 100])
>>> grid_search = GridSearchCV(pipe, param_grid=param_grid)

Individual steps may also be replaced as parameters, and non-final steps may be ignored by setting them to None:

>>> from sklearn.linear_model import LogisticRegression
>>> param_grid = dict(reduce_dim=[None, PCA(5), PCA(10)],
...                   clf=[SVC(), LogisticRegression()],
...                   clf__C=[0.1, 10, 100])
>>> grid_search = GridSearchCV(pipe, param_grid=param_grid) Notes

Calling fit on the pipeline is the same as calling fit on each estimator in turn, transform the input and pass it on to the next step. The pipeline has all the methods that the last estimator in the pipeline has, i.e. if the last estimator is a classifier, the Pipeline can be used as a classifier. If the last estimator is a transformer, again, so is the pipeline. Caching transformers: avoid repeated computation

Fitting transformers may be computationally expensive. With its memory parameter set, Pipeline will cache each transformer after calling fit. This feature is used to avoid computing the fit transformers within a pipeline if the parameters and input data are identical. A typical example is the case of a grid search in which the transformers can be fitted only once and reused for each configuration.

The parameter memory is needed in order to cache the transformers. memory can be either a string containing the directory where to cache the transformers or a joblib.Memory object:

>>> from tempfile import mkdtemp
>>> from shutil import rmtree
>>> from sklearn.decomposition import PCA
>>> from sklearn.svm import SVC
>>> from sklearn.pipeline import Pipeline
>>> estimators = [('reduce_dim', PCA()), ('clf', SVC())]
>>> cachedir = mkdtemp()
>>> pipe = Pipeline(estimators, memory=cachedir)
>>> pipe 
         steps=[('reduce_dim', PCA(copy=True,...)),
                ('clf', SVC(C=1.0,...))])
>>> # Clear the cache directory when you don't need it anymore
>>> rmtree(cachedir)


Side effect of caching transformers

Using a Pipeline without cache enabled, it is possible to inspect the original instance such as:

>>> from sklearn.datasets import load_digits
>>> digits = load_digits()
>>> pca1 = PCA()
>>> svm1 = SVC()
>>> pipe = Pipeline([('reduce_dim', pca1), ('clf', svm1)])
>>> pipe.fit(digits.data, digits.target)
         steps=[('reduce_dim', PCA(...)), ('clf', SVC(...))])
>>> # The pca instance can be inspected directly
>>> print(pca1.components_) 
    [[ -1.77484909e-19  ... 4.07058917e-18]]

Enabling caching triggers a clone of the transformers before fitting. Therefore, the transformer instance given to the pipeline cannot be inspected directly. In following example, accessing the PCA instance pca2 will raise an AttributeError since pca2 will be an unfitted transformer. Instead, use the attribute named_steps to inspect estimators within the pipeline:

>>> cachedir = mkdtemp()
>>> pca2 = PCA()
>>> svm2 = SVC()
>>> cached_pipe = Pipeline([('reduce_dim', pca2), ('clf', svm2)],
...                        memory=cachedir)
>>> cached_pipe.fit(digits.data, digits.target)
          steps=[('reduce_dim', PCA(...)), ('clf', SVC(...))])
>>> print(cached_pipe.named_steps['reduce_dim'].components_)
    [[ -1.77484909e-19  ... 4.07058917e-18]]
>>> # Remove the cache directory
>>> rmtree(cachedir)

4.1.2. FeatureUnion: composite feature spaces

FeatureUnion combines several transformer objects into a new transformer that combines their output. A FeatureUnion takes a list of transformer objects. During fitting, each of these is fit to the data independently. For transforming data, the transformers are applied in parallel, and the sample vectors they output are concatenated end-to-end into larger vectors.

FeatureUnion serves the same purposes as Pipeline - convenience and joint parameter estimation and validation.

FeatureUnion and Pipeline can be combined to create complex models.

(A FeatureUnion has no way of checking whether two transformers might produce identical features. It only produces a union when the feature sets are disjoint, and making sure they are the caller’s responsibility.) Usage

A FeatureUnion is built using a list of (key, value) pairs, where the key is the name you want to give to a given transformation (an arbitrary string; it only serves as an identifier) and value is an estimator object:

>>> from sklearn.pipeline import FeatureUnion
>>> from sklearn.decomposition import PCA
>>> from sklearn.decomposition import KernelPCA
>>> estimators = [('linear_pca', PCA()), ('kernel_pca', KernelPCA())]
>>> combined = FeatureUnion(estimators)
>>> combined 
             transformer_list=[('linear_pca', PCA(copy=True,...)),
                               ('kernel_pca', KernelPCA(alpha=1.0,...))],

Like pipelines, feature unions have a shorthand constructor called make_union that does not require explicit naming of the components.

Like Pipeline, individual steps may be replaced using set_params, and ignored by setting to None:

>>> combined.set_params(kernel_pca=None)
             transformer_list=[('linear_pca', PCA(copy=True,...)),
                               ('kernel_pca', None)],

© 2007–2017 The scikit-learn developers
Licensed under the 3-clause BSD License.