OML4Py (Oracle Machine Learning for Python) is Oracle’s offering where you can use Python commands to process and analyse data in an Oracle Database without having to write any SQL. OML4Py, via it’s transparency layer, translates Python code into SQL, executes it in the Database and then presents the results back to you in your Python environment. The examples shown in this post used the OML Notebooks available with Autonomous Databases on Oracle Cloud.

Warning: the functionality available with initial release of OML4Py is very limited and may not suit most Python developers. Hopefully this will be addressed in later releases

One of the features of OML4Py is Automated Machine Leaning (AutoML). At some point in the near future Oracle will have a GUI interface for AutoML, which will save you from having to write any code, such as the example in this post. See my previous blog post about AutoML. It is a general discussion on AutoML and some things you need to be careful with. Also, be careful of the marketing around AutoML from all vendors. The reality doesn’t necessarily live up to marketing

OML4Py has a couple of approaches you can follow to Automatically generate a Machine Learning Model (see previous blog post). The first of these can be considered the Black Box approach for AutoML, and the example below illustrates an example of this. The more detailed version of AutoML will be covered in a later post.

[Info: I’m using Oracle Free Tier Database. At time of writing this post OML4Py is only available with Oracle Autonomous 19c]

But before look at these, the first step we need to do is setup the data set to use for AutoML. I’ll be using the popular Portuguese Bank data set. Each code snippets shown below are for a one cell in my OML Notebooks. The data set exists as a table in my schema called BANK_ADDITIONAL_FULL. The sync command creates a proxy object in the notebook session pointing to the table in the DB. No data is copied into the notebook.

Let’s explore the data. Remember the data lives in a table in the DB and only the results are displayed

Now remove one attribute from data set and at the sample time setup the dataframes for input to the ML. This is highly correlated to the the target variable.

Finally, we can now look at the first of the AutoML options, the black box option. This uses the AutoML ModelSelection function. Using this you can define the type of machine learning to perform (‘classification) and set some additional parameters. The parallel parameter will probably not have too much of an effect when using the Oracle Free Tier, but will certainly improved performance when using additional compute resources.

The example below is very simple and the setup of it is very simple. The ModelSelection function sets up the parameters for the AutoML to function. The ‘select’ function runs the AutoML based on those parameters along with some additional ones. These parameters and the additional ones available are explained below, after this first example.

ModelSelection can have the following parameters. The possible values for each are listed with the value in bold being the default value:

  • mining_function : the type of ML to preform, only two option available for this, classification or regression
  • score_metric: what metric to use for evaluating the models. Defaults for binary and multi classification balanced_accuracy is used and default for regression is neg_mean_squared_error. Other options for regression include r2, neg_mean_absolute_error and neg_median_absolute_error. For classification other options include, accuracy, f1, precision, recall, roc_auc, f1_micro, f1_macro, f1_weighted, recall_micro, recall_macro, recall_weighted, precision_micro, precision_macro, precision_weighted
  • parallel: degree of parallelism to use, None or a number.

Having defined ModelSelection settings, we can move onto using it to preform (black box) AutoML, using the ‘select’ function. Oracle doesn’t tell us what it does inside this black box except that it uses ML and meta-learning techniques to work out which algorithms to use, what subsets of the original data set to use to give use a optimal outcome. It’s there secret recipe!

The ‘select’ function elevates all the available algorithms, creating models for each or a subset of them based on the meta-learning, and returns the “best” one. The function returns just one model, which is the “best”. The value set for ‘k’ tells the function how many of the “best” or top models created, how many of these to tune before returning the “best” one.

Now, let’s run an example of the ‘select’ function and what parameters is can have

  • X: input data set consisting of the columns to use for Training.
  • y: the column containing the Target variable.
  • case_id: columns name of case_id, default is None. If supplied can be used for data sampling
  • k: the number of (best) models to tune. Default is 3, but can be set to any number between one and eight, as setting it higher than that has no effect as there aren’t any more than that number of algorithms in the database!
  • solver: allowed values are fast (default) and exhaustive. fast uses internal ML and meta-learning thereby reducing the search space. exhaustive will be slower as it will evaluate all algorithms and options for creating a model.
  • cv: cross validation. Default is auto, but can be set to a number or set to None uses inputs defined in X_valid and y_valid defined below. auto will determine the number based on size of input data set, and when a number is provided will perform that number cross validation.
  • adaptive_sampling: use adaptive sampling to reduce data set size to speed up runtime of ‘select’ function. Default is True, otherwise use False.
  • X_valid: validation data set, default is None.
  • y_valid: validation target column, default is None.
  • time_budget: defines a time constraint on how how long, in seconds, to spend working out the solution. Default is None, or number for number of seconds. Useful for large data sets or for when you need a quicker results, and can be increased based on experimentation.

Here is a basic example of using the ‘select’ function, using the data frames created above as input, ‘k’ is set to five telling the function to tune the top five models created based on doing five fold cross-validation ‘cv’.

This returns the following model information. We are told the algorithm used (RandomForest), the tuned algorithm settings, and what attributes from the input data frame are used in the tuned model.

[I’ve found the Oracle Documentation for (initial release of) OML4Py lacking with information. Hopefully the documentation will be updated]

I’ve mentioned before you need to exercise some caution with using AutoML due to various potential legal and moral issues. Can they be used as a quick way get an idea if ML will produce useful insights for your data. But the results from it should never be used for making business decisions and never deployed in production. Use it as a starting point, from which to build out an ML solutions with humans making the decisions on what to use and why to use them.

[Warning: Based on the functionality available in the early release of OML4Py, you will be limited in what you can do, not just with AutoML but with other features of OML4Py. Maybe check back at a later time when it has matured and has way more functionality, allowing you to do something useful with it!]