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Stochastic optimization routines for Theano

Project description


The downhill package provides algorithms for minimizing scalar loss functions that are defined using Theano.

Several optimization algorithms are included:

All algorithms permit the use of regular or Nesterov-style momentum as well.

Quick Start: Matrix Factorization

Let’s say you have 100 samples of 1000-dimensional data, and you want to represent your data as 100 coefficients in a 10-dimensional basis. This is pretty straightforward to model using Theano: you can use a matrix multiplication as the data model, a squared-error term for optimization, and a sparse regularizer to encourage small coefficient values.

Once you have constructed an expression for the loss, you can optimize it with a single call to downhill.minimize:

import downhill
import numpy as np
import theano
import theano.tensor as TT

FLOAT = 'df'[theano.config.floatX == 'float32']

def rand(a, b):
    return np.random.randn(a, b).astype(FLOAT)

A, B, K = 20, 5, 3

# Set up a matrix factorization problem to optimize.
u = theano.shared(rand(A, K), name='u')
v = theano.shared(rand(K, B), name='v')
z = TT.matrix()
err = TT.sqr(z -, v))
loss = err.mean() + abs(u).mean() + (v * v).mean()

# Minimize the regularized loss with respect to a data matrix.
y =, K), rand(K, B)) + rand(A, B)

# Monitor during optimization.
monitors = (('err', err.mean()),
            ('|u|<0.1', (abs(u) < 0.1).mean()),
            ('|v|<0.1', (abs(v) < 0.1).mean()))

    batch_size=A,                 # Process y as a single batch.
    max_gradient_norm=1,          # Prevent gradient explosion!

# Print out the optimized coefficients u and basis v.
print('u =', u.get_value())
print('v =', v.get_value())

If you prefer to maintain more control over your model during optimization, downhill provides an iterative optimization interface:

opt ='rmsprop',

for metrics, _ in opt.iterate(train=[[y]],

If that’s still not enough, you can just plain ask downhill for the updates to your model variables and do everything else yourself:

updates ='rmsprop', loss).get_updates(
    batch_size=A, max_gradient_norm=1, learning_rate=0.1)
func = theano.function([z], loss, updates=list(updates))
for _ in range(100):
    print(func(y))  # Evaluate func and apply variable updates.

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