## CoreML – Boston Prices exploration

In the previous post of this series we described some of the basics of linear regression, one of the most well-known models in machine learning. We saw that we can relate the values of input parameters $x_i$ to the target variable $y$ to be predicted. In this post we are going to create a linear regression model to predict the price of houses in Boston (based on valuations from 1970s). The dataset provides information such as Crime (CRIM), areas of non-retail business in the town (INDUS), the age of people who own the house (AGE), average number of rooms (RM) as well as the median value of homes in \$1000s (MEDV) as well as other attributes.

Let us start by exploring the data. We are going to use Scikit-learn and fortunately the dataset comes with the module. The input variables are included in the data method and the price is given by the target. We are going to load the input variables in the dataframe boston_df and the prices in the array y:

from sklearn import datasets
import pandas as pd
boston_df = pd.DataFrame(boston.data)
boston_df.columns = boston.feature_names
y = boston.target

We are going to build our model using only a limited number of inputs. In this case let us pay attention to the average number of rooms and the crime rate:

X = boston_df[['CRIM', 'RM']]
X.columns = ['Crime', 'Rooms']
X.describe()

The description of these two attributes is as follows:

            Crime       Rooms
count  506.000000  506.000000
mean     3.593761    6.284634
std      8.596783    0.702617
min      0.006320    3.561000
25%      0.082045    5.885500
50%      0.256510    6.208500
75%      3.647423    6.623500
max     88.976200    8.780000

As we can see the minimum number of rooms is 3.5 and the maximum is 8.78, whereas for the crime rate the minimum is 0.006 and the maximum value is 88.97, nonetheless the median is 0.25. We will use some of these values to define the ranges that will be provided to our users to find price predictions.

Finally, let us visualise the data:

We shall bear these values in mind when building our regression model in subsequent posts.

You can look at the code (in development) in my github site here.

## CoreML – Linear Regression

Hello again, where were we? … Oh yes, we have been discussing CoreML and have even set up an appropriate python 2 environment to work with CoreML. In this post we are going to cover some of the most basic aspects of the workhorse of machine learning: the dependable linear regression model.

We are indeed all familiar with a line of best fit, and I am sure that many of us remember doing some by hand (you know who you are) and who hasn’t played with Excel’s capabilities? In a nutshell, a linear regression is a model that relates a variable $y$ to one or more explanatory (or independent) variables $X$. The parameters that define the model are estimated from the available data and there are a number of assumptions about the explanatory variables and you can find more information in my Data Science and Analytics with Python book. We can think of the goal of a linear regression model to draw a line though the data as exemplified in the plot below:

Let us take the case of 2 independent variables $x_1$ and $x_2$. The linear regression model to predict our target variable $y$ is given by:

$y=\alpha + \beta_1 x_1 + \beta_2 x_2 + \epsilon$,

where $\alpha$and $\beta_i$ are the parameters to be estimated to help us generate predictions. With the aid of techniques such as least squares can estimate the parameters $\alpha, \beta_1$ and $\beta_2$ by minimising the sum of the squares of the residuals, i,.e the difference between an observed value, and the fitted value provided by a model. Once we have determined the parameters, we are able to score new (unseen) data for $x_1$ and $x_2$ to predict the value of $y$.

In the next post we will show how we can do this for the Boston House Prices dataset using a couple of variables such as number of bedrooms in the property and a crime index for the area. Remember that the aim will be to show how to build the model to be used with CoreML and not a perfect model for the prediction.

Keep in touch.

-j

## Core ML – Preparing the environment

Hello again! In preparation to training a model to be converted by Core ML to be used in an application, I would like to make sure we have a suitable environment to work on. One of the first things that came to my attention looking at the coreml module is the fact that it only supports Python 2! Yes, you read correctly, you will have to make sure you use Python 2.7 if you want to make this work. As you probably know, Python 2 will be retired in 2020, so I hope that Apple is considering in their development cycles. Python 3 is now finally supported! In the meantime you can see the countdown to Python 2’s retirement here, and thanks Python 2 for the many years of service…

Anyway, if you are a Python 2 3 user, then you are good to go. If on the other hand you have moved with the times you may need to make appropriate installations. I am using Anaconda (you may use your favourite distro) and I will be creating a conda environment (I’m calling it coreml) with Python 2.7 and some of the libraries I will be using:

> conda create --name coreml python=3 ipython jupyter scikit-learn

> conda activate coreml

(coreml)
> pip install coremltools

I am sure there may be other modules that will be needed, and I will make appropriate installations (and additions to this post) as that becomes clearer.

You can get a look at Apple’s coremltools github repo here.

ADDITIONS: As I mentioned, there may have been other modules that needed installing in the new environment here is a list:

• pandas
• matplotlib
• pillow

## Core ML – What is it?

In a previous post I mentioned that I will be sharing some notes about my journey with doing data science and machine learning by Apple technology. This is the firsts of those posts and here I will go about what Core ML is…

Core ML is a computer framework. So what is a framework?  Well, in computer terms is a software abstraction that enables generic functionality to be modified as required by the user to transform it into software for specific purposes to enable the development of a system or even a humble project.

So Core ML is an Apple provided framework to speed apps that use trained machine learning models. Notice that word in bold – trained – is part of the description of the framework. This means that the model has to be developed externally with appropriate training data for the specific project in mind. For instance if you are interested in building a classifier that distinguishes cats from cars, then you need to train the model with lots of cat and car images.

As it stands Core ML supports a variety of machine learning models, from generalised linear models (GLMs for short) to neural nets. Furthermore it helps with the tests of adding the trained machine learning model to your application by automatically creating a custom programmatic interface that supplies an APU to your model. All this within the comfort of Xcode!

There is an important point to remember. The model has to be developed externally from Core ML, in other words you may want to use your favourite machine learning framework (that word again), computer language and environment to cover the different aspects of the data science workflow. You can read more in that in Chapter 3 of my “Data Science and Analytics with Python” book. So whether you use Scikit-learnm, Keras or Caffe, the model you develop has to be trained (tested and evaluated) beforehand. Once you are ready, then Core ML will support you in bringing it to the masses via your app.

As mentioned in the Core ML documentation:

Core ML is optimized for on-device performance, which minimizes memory footprint and power consumption. Running strictly on the device ensures the privacy of user data and guarantees that your app remains functional and responsive when a network connection is unavailable.

OK, so in the next few posts we will be using Python and coreml tools to generate a so-called .mlmodel file that Xcode can use and deploy. Stay tuned!

## Machine Learning with Apple – An Open Notebook

We all know how cool machine learning, predictive analytics and data science concepts and problems are. There are a number of really interesting technologies and frameworks to use and choose from. I have been a Python and R user for some time now and they seem to be pretty good for a lot of the things I have to do on a day-to-day basis.

As many of you know, I am also a mac user and have been for quite a lot time. I remember using early versions of Mathematica on PowerMacs back at Uni… I digress..

Apple has also been moving into the machine learning arena and has made available a few interesting goodies that help people like me make the most of the models we develop.

I am starting a series of posts that I hope can be seen as an “open notebook” of my experimentation and learning with Apple technology. One that comes to mind is CoreML, a new framework that makes running various machine learning and statistical models on macOS and iOS natively supported. The idea is that the framework helps data scientists and developers bridge the gap between them by integrating trained models into our apps. Sounds cool, don’t you think? Ready… Let’s go!