FTRL Model

This section provides a brief introduction to the FTRL (Follow the Regularized Leader) model as implemented in datatable. For detailed information on API, please refer to the Ftrl Python class documentation.

FTRL Model Information

The Follow the Regularized Leader (FTRL) model is a datatable implementation of the FTRL-Proximal online learning algorithm for binomial logistic regression. It uses a hashing trick for feature vectorization and the Hogwild approach for parallelization. FTRL for multinomial classification and continuous targets are implemented experimentally.

Create an FTRL Model

The FTRL model is implemented as the Ftrl Python class, which is a part of dt.models, so to use the model you should first do:

from datatable.models import Ftrl

and then create a model as:

ftrl_model = Ftrl()

FTRL Model Parameters

The FTRL model requires a list of parameters for training and making predictions, namely:

  • alpha – learning rate, defaults to 0.005.

  • beta – beta parameter, defaults to 1.0.

  • lambda1 – L1 regularization parameter, defaults to 0.0.

  • lambda2 – L2 regularization parameter, defaults to 1.0.

  • nbins – the number of bins for the hashing trick, defaults to 10**6.

  • mantissa_nbits – the number of bits from mantissa to be used for hashing, defaults to 10.

  • nepochs – the number of epochs to train the model for, defaults to 1.

  • negative_class – whether to create and train on a “negative” class in the case of multinomial classification, defaults to False.

  • interactions — a list or a tuple of interactions. In turn, each interaction should be a list or a tuple of feature names, where each feature name is a column name from the training frame. This setting defaults to None.

  • model_type — training mode that can be one of the following: "auto" to automatically set model type based on the target column data, "binomial" for binomial classification, "multinomial" for multinomial classification or "regression" for continuous targets. Defaults to "auto".

If some parameters need to be changed from their default values, this can be done either when creating the model, as

ftrl_model = Ftrl(alpha = 0.1, nbins = 100)

or, if the model already exists, as

ftrl_model.alpha = 0.1 ftrl_model.nbins = 100

If some parameters were not set explicitely, they will be assigned the default values.

Training a Model

Use the fit() method to train a model:, y_train)

where X_train is a frame of shape (nrows, ncols) to be trained on, and y_train is a target frame of shape (nrows, 1). The following datatable column types are supported for the X_train frame: bool, int, real and str.

FTRL model can also do early stopping, if relative validation error does not improve. For this the model should be fit as

res =, y_train, X_validation, y_validation, nepochs_validation, validation_error, validation_average_niterations)

where X_train and y_train are training and target frames, respectively, X_validation and y_validation are validation frames, nepochs_validation specifies how often, in epoch units, validation error should be checked, validation_error is the relative validation error improvement that the model should demonstrate within nepochs_validation to continue training, and validation_average_niterations is the number of iterations to average when calculating the validation error. Returned res tuple contains epoch at which training stopped and the corresponding loss.

Resetting a Model

Use the reset() method to reset a model:


This will reset model weights, but it will not affect learning parameters. To reset parameters to default values, you can do

ftrl_model.params = Ftrl().params

Making Predictions

Use the predict() method to make predictions:

targets = ftrl_model.predict(X)

where X is a frame of shape (nrows, ncols) to make predictions for. X should have the same number of columns as the training frame. The predict() method returns a new frame of shape (nrows, 1) with the predicted probability for each row of frame X.

Feature Importances

To estimate feature importances, the overall weight contributions are calculated feature-wise during training and predicting. Feature importances can be accessed as

fi = ftrl_model.feature_importances

where fi will be a frame of shape (nfeatures, 2) containing feature names and their importances, that are normalized to [0; 1] range.

Feature Interactions

By default each column of a training dataset is considered as a feature by FTRL model. User can provide additional features by specifying a list or a tuple of feature interactions, for instance as

ftrl_model.interactions = [["C0", "C1", "C3"], ["C2", "C5"]]

where C* are column names from a training dataset. In the above example two additional features, namely, C0:C1:C3 and C2:C5, are created.

interactions should be set before a call to fit() method, and can not be changed once the model is trained.