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Steps & Pipelines

How to create ML pipelines in ZenML
ZenML helps you standardize your ML workflows as ML Pipelines consisting of decoupled, modular Steps. This enables you to write portable code that can be moved from experimentation to production in seconds.
If you are new to MLOps and would like to learn more about ML pipelines in general, checkout ZenBytes, our lesson series on practical MLOps, where we introduce ML pipelines in more detail in ZenBytes lesson 1.1.

Step

Steps are the atomic components of a ZenML pipeline. Each step is defined by its inputs, the logic it applies and its outputs. Here is a very basic example of such a step, which uses a utility function to load the Digits dataset:
import numpy as np
from sklearn.datasets import load_digits
from sklearn.model_selection import train_test_split
from zenml.steps import Output, step
@step
def digits_data_loader() -> Output(
X_train=np.ndarray, X_test=np.ndarray, y_train=np.ndarray, y_test=np.ndarray
):
"""Loads the digits dataset as a tuple of flattened numpy arrays."""
digits = load_digits()
data = digits.images.reshape((len(digits.images), -1))
X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = train_test_split(
data, digits.target, test_size=0.2, shuffle=False
)
return X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test
As this step has multiple outputs, we need to use the zenml.steps.step_output.Output class to indicate the names of each output. These names can be used to directly access the outputs of steps after running a pipeline, as we will see in a later chapter.
Let's come up with a second step that consumes the output of our first step and performs some sort of transformation on it. In this case, let's train a support vector machine classifier on the training data using sklearn:
import numpy as np
from sklearn.base import ClassifierMixin
from sklearn.svm import SVC
from zenml.steps import step
@step
def svc_trainer(
X_train: np.ndarray,
y_train: np.ndarray,
) -> ClassifierMixin:
"""Train a sklearn SVC classifier."""
model = SVC(gamma=0.001)
model.fit(X_train, y_train)
return model
Next, we will combine our two steps into our first ML pipeline.
In case you want to run the step function outside the context of a ZenML pipeline, all you need to do is call the .entrypoint() method with the same input signature. For example:
svc_trainer.entrypoint(X_train=..., y_train=...)

Pipeline

Let us now define our first ML pipeline. This is agnostic of the implementation and can be done by routing outputs through the steps within the pipeline. You can think of this as a recipe for how we want data to flow through our steps.
from zenml.pipelines import pipeline
@pipeline
def first_pipeline(step_1, step_2):
X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = step_1()
step_2(X_train, y_train)

Instantiate and run your Pipeline

With your pipeline recipe in hand you can now specify which concrete step implementations to use when instantiating the pipeline:
first_pipeline_instance = first_pipeline(
step_1=digits_data_loader(),
step_2=svc_trainer(),
)
Currently, you cannot use the same step twice in a pipeline because step names must be unique. If you would like to reuse a step, use the clone_step() utility function to create a copy of the step with a new name.
You can then execute your pipeline instance with the .run() method:
first_pipeline_instance.run()
You should see the following output in your terminal:
Creating run for pipeline: `first_pipeline`
Cache disabled for pipeline `first_pipeline`
Using stack `default` to run pipeline `first_pipeline`
Step `digits_data_loader` has started.
Step `digits_data_loader` has finished in 0.049s.
Step `svc_trainer` has started.
Step `svc_trainer` has finished in 0.067s.
Pipeline run `first_pipeline-06_Jul_22-16_10_46_255748` has finished in 0.128s.
We will dive deeper into how to inspect the finished run within the chapter on Accessing Pipeline Runs.

Give each pipeline run a name

When running a pipeline by calling my_pipeline.run(), ZenML uses the current date and time as the name for the pipeline run. In order to change the name for a run, pass run_name as a parameter to the run() function:
first_pipeline_instance.run(run_name="custom_pipeline_run_name")
Pipeline run names must be unique, so make sure to compute it dynamically if you plan to run your pipeline multiple times.

Code Summary

import numpy as np
from sklearn.base import ClassifierMixin
from sklearn.datasets import load_digits
from sklearn.model_selection import train_test_split
from sklearn.svm import SVC
from zenml.steps import Output, step
from zenml.pipelines import pipeline
@step
def digits_data_loader() -> Output(
X_train=np.ndarray, X_test=np.ndarray, y_train=np.ndarray, y_test=np.ndarray
):
"""Loads the digits dataset as a tuple of flattened numpy arrays."""
digits = load_digits()
data = digits.images.reshape((len(digits.images), -1))
X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = train_test_split(
data, digits.target, test_size=0.2, shuffle=False
)
return X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test
@step
def svc_trainer(
X_train: np.ndarray,
y_train: np.ndarray,
) -> ClassifierMixin:
"""Train a sklearn SVC classifier."""
model = SVC(gamma=0.001)
model.fit(X_train, y_train)
return model
@pipeline
def first_pipeline(step_1, step_2):
X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = step_1()
step_2(X_train, y_train)
first_pipeline_instance = first_pipeline(
step_1=digits_data_loader(),
step_2=svc_trainer(),
)
first_pipeline_instance.run()