# Posit AI Blog: Using torch modules

Initially,

we started learning about `torch`

basics by coding a simple neural

network from scratch, making use of just a single of `torch`

’s features:

*tensors*.

Then,

we immensely simplified the task, replacing manual backpropagation with

*autograd*. Today, we *modularize* the network – in both the habitual

and a very literal sense: Low-level matrix operations are swapped out

for `torch`

`module`

s.

## Modules

From other frameworks (Keras, say), you may be used to distinguishing

between *models* and *layers*. In `torch`

, both are instances of

`nn_Module()`

, and thus, have some methods in common. For those thinking

in terms of “models” and “layers”, I’m artificially splitting up this

section into two parts. In reality though, there is no dichotomy: New

modules may be composed of existing ones up to arbitrary levels of

recursion.

### Base modules (“layers”)

Instead of writing out an affine operation by hand – `x$mm(w1) + b1`

,

say –, as we’ve been doing so far, we can create a linear module. The

following snippet instantiates a linear layer that expects three-feature

inputs and returns a single output per observation:

The module has two parameters, “weight” and “bias”. Both now come

pre-initialized:

```
$weight
torch_tensor
-0.0385 0.1412 -0.5436
[ CPUFloatType{1,3} ]
$bias
torch_tensor
-0.1950
[ CPUFloatType{1} ]
```

Modules are callable; calling a module executes its `forward()`

method,

which, for a linear layer, matrix-multiplies input and weights, and adds

the bias.

Let’s try this:

```
data <- torch_randn(10, 3)
out <- l(data)
```

Unsurprisingly, `out`

now holds some data:

```
torch_tensor
0.2711
-1.8151
-0.0073
0.1876
-0.0930
0.7498
-0.2332
-0.0428
0.3849
-0.2618
[ CPUFloatType{10,1} ]
```

In addition though, this tensor knows what will need to be done, should

ever it be asked to calculate gradients:

`AddmmBackward`

Note the difference between tensors returned by modules and self-created

ones. When creating tensors ourselves, we need to pass

`requires_grad = TRUE`

to trigger gradient calculation. With modules,

`torch`

correctly assumes that we’ll want to perform backpropagation at

some point.

By now though, we haven’t called `backward()`

yet. Thus, no gradients

have yet been computed:

```
l$weight$grad
l$bias$grad
```

```
torch_tensor
[ Tensor (undefined) ]
torch_tensor
[ Tensor (undefined) ]
```

Let’s change this:

```
Error in (function (self, gradient, keep_graph, create_graph) :
grad can be implicitly created only for scalar outputs (_make_grads at ../torch/csrc/autograd/autograd.cpp:47)
```

Why the error? *Autograd* expects the output tensor to be a scalar,

while in our example, we have a tensor of size `(10, 1)`

. This error

won’t often occur in practice, where we work with *batches* of inputs

(sometimes, just a single batch). But still, it’s interesting to see how

to resolve this.

To make the example work, we introduce a – virtual – final aggregation

step – taking the mean, say. Let’s call it `avg`

. If such a mean were

taken, its gradient with respect to `l$weight`

would be obtained via the

chain rule:

\[

\begin{equation*}

\frac{\partial \ avg}{\partial w} = \frac{\partial \ avg}{\partial \ out} \ \frac{\partial \ out}{\partial w}

\end{equation*}

\]

Of the quantities on the right side, we’re interested in the second. We

need to provide the first one, the way it would look *if really we were
taking the mean*:

```
d_avg_d_out <- torch_tensor(10)$`repeat`(10)$unsqueeze(1)$t()
out$backward(gradient = d_avg_d_out)
```

Now, `l$weight$grad`

and `l$bias$grad`

*do* contain gradients:

```
l$weight$grad
l$bias$grad
```

```
torch_tensor
1.3410 6.4343 -30.7135
[ CPUFloatType{1,3} ]
torch_tensor
100
[ CPUFloatType{1} ]
```

In addition to `nn_linear()`

, `torch`

provides pretty much all the

common layers you might hope for. But few tasks are solved by a single

layer. How do you combine them? Or, in the usual lingo: How do you build

*models*?

### Container modules (“models”)

Now, *models* are just modules that contain other modules. For example,

if all inputs are supposed to flow through the same nodes and along the

same edges, then `nn_sequential()`

can be used to build a simple graph.

For example:

```
model <- nn_sequential(
nn_linear(3, 16),
nn_relu(),
nn_linear(16, 1)
)
```

We can use the same technique as above to get an overview of all model

parameters (two weight matrices and two bias vectors):

```
$`0.weight`
torch_tensor
-0.1968 -0.1127 -0.0504
0.0083 0.3125 0.0013
0.4784 -0.2757 0.2535
-0.0898 -0.4706 -0.0733
-0.0654 0.5016 0.0242
0.4855 -0.3980 -0.3434
-0.3609 0.1859 -0.4039
0.2851 0.2809 -0.3114
-0.0542 -0.0754 -0.2252
-0.3175 0.2107 -0.2954
-0.3733 0.3931 0.3466
0.5616 -0.3793 -0.4872
0.0062 0.4168 -0.5580
0.3174 -0.4867 0.0904
-0.0981 -0.0084 0.3580
0.3187 -0.2954 -0.5181
[ CPUFloatType{16,3} ]
$`0.bias`
torch_tensor
-0.3714
0.5603
-0.3791
0.4372
-0.1793
-0.3329
0.5588
0.1370
0.4467
0.2937
0.1436
0.1986
0.4967
0.1554
-0.3219
-0.0266
[ CPUFloatType{16} ]
$`2.weight`
torch_tensor
Columns 1 to 10-0.0908 -0.1786 0.0812 -0.0414 -0.0251 -0.1961 0.2326 0.0943 -0.0246 0.0748
Columns 11 to 16 0.2111 -0.1801 -0.0102 -0.0244 0.1223 -0.1958
[ CPUFloatType{1,16} ]
$`2.bias`
torch_tensor
0.2470
[ CPUFloatType{1} ]
```

To inspect an individual parameter, make use of its position in the

sequential model. For example:

```
torch_tensor
-0.3714
0.5603
-0.3791
0.4372
-0.1793
-0.3329
0.5588
0.1370
0.4467
0.2937
0.1436
0.1986
0.4967
0.1554
-0.3219
-0.0266
[ CPUFloatType{16} ]
```

And just like `nn_linear()`

above, this module can be called directly on

data:

On a composite module like this one, calling `backward()`

will

backpropagate through all the layers:

```
out$backward(gradient = torch_tensor(10)$`repeat`(10)$unsqueeze(1)$t())
# e.g.
model[[1]]$bias$grad
```

```
torch_tensor
0.0000
-17.8578
1.6246
-3.7258
-0.2515
-5.8825
23.2624
8.4903
-2.4604
6.7286
14.7760
-14.4064
-1.0206
-1.7058
0.0000
-9.7897
[ CPUFloatType{16} ]
```

And placing the composite module on the GPU will move all tensors there:

```
model$cuda()
model[[1]]$bias$grad
```

```
torch_tensor
0.0000
-17.8578
1.6246
-3.7258
-0.2515
-5.8825
23.2624
8.4903
-2.4604
6.7286
14.7760
-14.4064
-1.0206
-1.7058
0.0000
-9.7897
[ CUDAFloatType{16} ]
```

Now let’s see how using `nn_sequential()`

can simplify our example

network.

## Simple network using modules

```
### generate training data -----------------------------------------------------
# input dimensionality (number of input features)
d_in <- 3
# output dimensionality (number of predicted features)
d_out <- 1
# number of observations in training set
n <- 100
# create random data
x <- torch_randn(n, d_in)
y <- x[, 1, NULL] * 0.2 - x[, 2, NULL] * 1.3 - x[, 3, NULL] * 0.5 + torch_randn(n, 1)
### define the network ---------------------------------------------------------
# dimensionality of hidden layer
d_hidden <- 32
model <- nn_sequential(
nn_linear(d_in, d_hidden),
nn_relu(),
nn_linear(d_hidden, d_out)
)
### network parameters ---------------------------------------------------------
learning_rate <- 1e-4
### training loop --------------------------------------------------------------
for (t in 1:200) {
### -------- Forward pass --------
y_pred <- model(x)
### -------- compute loss --------
loss <- (y_pred - y)$pow(2)$sum()
if (t %% 10 == 0)
cat("Epoch: ", t, " Loss: ", loss$item(), "\n")
### -------- Backpropagation --------
# Zero the gradients before running the backward pass.
model$zero_grad()
# compute gradient of the loss w.r.t. all learnable parameters of the model
loss$backward()
### -------- Update weights --------
# Wrap in with_no_grad() because this is a part we DON'T want to record
# for automatic gradient computation
# Update each parameter by its `grad`
with_no_grad({
model$parameters %>% purrr::walk(function(param) param$sub_(learning_rate * param$grad))
})
}
```

The forward pass looks a lot better now; however, we still loop through

the model’s parameters and update each one by hand. Furthermore, you may

be already be suspecting that `torch`

provides abstractions for common

loss functions. In the next and last installment of this series, we’ll

address both points, making use of `torch`

losses and optimizers. See

you then!