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Automating the Archetypal Machine Learning Workflow and Model Deployment

This repository contains a Python-based Machine Learning (ML) project, whose primary aim is to demonstrate the archetypal ML workflow within a Jupyter notebook, together with some proof-of-concept ideas on automating key steps, using the Titanic binary classification dataset hosted on Kaggle. The ML workflow includes: data exploration and visualisation, feature engineering, model training and selection. The notebook - titanic-ml.ipynb - also yields a persisted prediction pipeline (pickled to the models directory), that is used downstream in the model deployment process. Note, that we have already downloaded the data from Kaggle, in CSV format, to the data directory of this project's root directory.

The secondary aim of this project, is to demonstrate how the deployment of the model generated as a 'build artefact' of the modelling notebook, can be automatically deployed as a managed RESTful prediction service on Kubernetes, without having to write any custom code. The full details are contained in the deploy/deploy-model.ipynb notebook, where we lean very heavily on the approaches discussed here.

Managing Project Dependencies using Pipenv

We use pipenv for managing project dependencies and Python environments (i.e. virtual environments). All of the direct packages dependencies required to run the code (e.g. NumPy for arrays/tensors and Pandas for DataFrames), as well as all the packages used during development (e.g. flake8 for code linting and IPython for interactive console sessions), are described in the Pipfile. Their precise downstream dependencies are described in Pipfile.lock.

Installing Pipenv

To get started with Pipenv, first of all download it - assuming that there is a global version of Python available on your system and on the PATH, then this can be achieved by running the following command,

pip3 install pipenv

Pipenv is also available to install from many non-Python package managers. For example, on OS X it can be installed using the Homebrew package manager, with the following terminal command,

brew install pipenv

For more information, including advanced configuration options, see the official pipenv documentation.

Installing this Projects' Dependencies

Make sure that you're in the project's root directory (the same one in which the Pipfile resides), and then run,

pipenv install --dev

This will install all of the direct project dependencies as well as the development dependencies (the latter a consequence of the --dev flag).

Running Python, IPython and JupyterLab from the Project's Virtual Environment

In order to continue development in a Python environment that precisely mimics the one the project was initially developed with, use Pipenv from the command line as follows,

pipenv run python3

The python3 command could just as well be ipython3 or the JupterLab, for example,

pipenv run jupyter lab

This will fire-up a JupyterLab where the default Python 3 kernel includes all of the direct and development project dependencies. This is how we advise that the notebooks within this project are used.

Automatic Loading of Environment Variables

Pipenv will automatically pick-up and load any environment variables declared in the .env file, located in the package's root directory. For example, adding,

SPARK_HOME=applications/spark-2.3.1/bin

Will enable access to this variable within any Python program, via a call to os.environ['SPARK_HOME']. Note, that if any security credentials are placed here, then this file must be removed from source control - i.e. add .env to the .gitignore file to prevent potential security risks.

Pipenv Shells

Prepending pipenv to every command you want to run within the context of your Pipenv-managed virtual environment, can get very tedious. This can be avoided by entering into a Pipenv-managed shell,

pipenv shell

which is equivalent to 'activating' the virtual environment. Any command will now be executed within the virtual environment. Use exit to leave the shell session.


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