Tag Archives: #AutoML

Introducing Model Search: An Open Source Platform for Finding Optimal ML Models

The success of a neural network (NN) often depends on how well it can generalize to various tasks. However, designing NNs that can generalize well is challenging because the research community's understanding of how a neural network generalizes is currently somewhat limited: What does the appropriate neural network look like for a given problem? How deep should it be? Which types of layers should be used? Would LSTMs be enough or would Transformer layers be better? Or maybe a combination of the two? Would ensembling or distillation boost performance? These tricky questions are made even more challenging when considering machine learning (ML) domains where there may exist better intuition and deeper understanding than others.

In recent years, AutoML algorithms have emerged [e.g., 1, 2, 3] to help researchers find the right neural network automatically without the need for manual experimentation. Techniques like neural architecture search (NAS), use algorithms, like reinforcement learning (RL), evolutionary algorithms, and combinatorial search, to build a neural network out of a given search space. With the proper setup, these techniques have demonstrated they are capable of delivering results that are better than the manually designed counterparts. But more often than not, these algorithms are compute heavy, and need thousands of models to train before converging. Moreover, they explore search spaces that are domain specific and incorporate substantial prior human knowledge that does not transfer well across domains. As an example, in image classification, the traditional NAS searches for two good building blocks (convolutional and downsampling blocks), that it arranges following traditional conventions to create the full network.

To overcome these shortcomings and to extend access to AutoML solutions to the broader research community, we are excited to announce the open source release of Model Search, a platform that helps researchers develop the best ML models, efficiently and automatically. Instead of focusing on a specific domain, Model Search is domain agnostic, flexible and is capable of finding the appropriate architecture that best fits a given dataset and problem, while minimizing coding time, effort and compute resources. It is built on Tensorflow, and can run either on a single machine or in a distributed setting.

Overview
The Model Search system consists of multiple trainers, a search algorithm, a transfer learning algorithm and a database to store the various evaluated models. The system runs both training and evaluation experiments for various ML models (different architectures and training techniques) in an adaptive, yet asynchronous, fashion. While each trainer conducts experiments independently, all trainers share the knowledge gained from their experiments. At the beginning of every cycle, the search algorithm looks up all the completed trials and uses beam search to decide what to try next. It then invokes mutation over one of the best architectures found thus far and assigns the resulting model back to a trainer.

Model Search schematic illustrating the distributed search and ensembling. Each trainer runs independently to train and evaluate a given model. The results are shared with the search algorithm, which it stores. The search algorithm then invokes mutation over one of the best architectures and then sends the new model back to a trainer for the next iteration. S is the set of training and validation examples and A are all the candidates used during training and search.

The system builds a neural network model from a set of predefined blocks, each of which represents a known micro-architecture, like LSTM, ResNet or Transformer layers. By using blocks of pre-existing architectural components, Model Search is able to leverage existing best knowledge from NAS research across domains. This approach is also more efficient, because it explores structures, not their more fundamental and detailed components, therefore reducing the scale of the search space.

Neural network micro architecture blocks that work well, e.g., a ResNet Block.

Because the Model Search framework is built on Tensorflow, blocks can implement any function that takes a tensor as an input. For example, imagine that one wants to introduce a new search space built with a selection of micro architectures. The framework will take the newly defined blocks and incorporate them into the search process so that algorithms can build the best possible neural network from the components provided. The blocks provided can even be fully defined neural networks that are already known to work for the problem of interest. In that case, Model Search can be configured to simply act as a powerful ensembling machine.

The search algorithms implemented in Model Search are adaptive, greedy and incremental, which makes them converge faster than RL algorithms. They do however imitate the “explore & exploit” nature of RL algorithms by separating the search for a good candidate (explore step), and boosting accuracy by ensembling good candidates that were discovered (exploit step). The main search algorithm adaptively modifies one of the top k performing experiments (where k can be specified by the user) after applying random changes to the architecture or the training technique (e.g., making the architecture deeper).

An example of an evolution of a network over many experiments. Each color represents a different type of architecture block. The final network is formed via mutations of high performing candidate networks, in this case adding depth.

To further improve efficiency and accuracy, transfer learning is enabled between various internal experiments. Model Search does this in two ways — via knowledge distillation or weight sharing. Knowledge distillation allows one to improve candidates' accuracies by adding a loss term that matches the high performing models’ predictions in addition to the ground truth. Weight sharing, on the other hand, bootstraps some of the parameters (after applying mutation) in the network from previously trained candidates by copying suitable weights from previously trained models and randomly initializing the remaining ones. This enables faster training, which allows opportunities to discover more (and better) architectures.

Experimental Results
Model Search improves upon production models with minimal iterations. In a recent paper, we demonstrated the capabilities of Model Search in the speech domain by discovering a model for keyword spotting and language identification. Over fewer than 200 iterations, the resulting model slightly improved upon internal state-of-the-art production models designed by experts in accuracy using ~130K fewer trainable parameters (184K compared to 315K parameters).

Model accuracy given iteration in our system compared to the previous production model for keyword spotting, a similar graph can be found for language identification in the linked paper.

We also applied Model Search to find an architecture suitable for image classification on the heavily explored CIFAR-10 imaging dataset. Using a set known convolution blocks, including convolutions, resnet blocks (i.e., two convolutions and a skip connection), NAS-A cells, fully connected layers, etc., we observed that we were able to quickly reach a benchmark accuracy of 91.83 in 209 trials (i.e., exploring only 209 models). In comparison, previous top performers reached the same threshold accuracy in 5807 trials for the NasNet algorithm (RL), and 1160 for PNAS (RL + Progressive).

Conclusion
We hope the Model Search code will provide researchers with a flexible, domain-agnostic framework for ML model discovery. By building upon previous knowledge for a given domain, we believe that this framework is powerful enough to build models with the state-of-the-art performance on well studied problems when provided with a search space composed of standard building blocks.

Acknowledgements
Special thanks to all code contributors to the open sourcing and the paper: Eugen Ehotaj, Scotty Yak, Malaika Handa, James Preiss, Pai Zhu, Aleks Kracun, Prashant Sridhar, Niranjan Subrahmanya, Ignacio Lopez Moreno, Hyun Jin Park, and Patrick Violette.

Source: Google AI Blog


Introducing Model Search: An Open Source Platform for Finding Optimal ML Models

The success of a neural network (NN) often depends on how well it can generalize to various tasks. However, designing NNs that can generalize well is challenging because the research community's understanding of how a neural network generalizes is currently somewhat limited: What does the appropriate neural network look like for a given problem? How deep should it be? Which types of layers should be used? Would LSTMs be enough or would Transformer layers be better? Or maybe a combination of the two? Would ensembling or distillation boost performance? These tricky questions are made even more challenging when considering machine learning (ML) domains where there may exist better intuition and deeper understanding than others.

In recent years, AutoML algorithms have emerged [e.g., 1, 2, 3] to help researchers find the right neural network automatically without the need for manual experimentation. Techniques like neural architecture search (NAS), use algorithms, like reinforcement learning (RL), evolutionary algorithms, and combinatorial search, to build a neural network out of a given search space. With the proper setup, these techniques have demonstrated they are capable of delivering results that are better than the manually designed counterparts. But more often than not, these algorithms are compute heavy, and need thousands of models to train before converging. Moreover, they explore search spaces that are domain specific and incorporate substantial prior human knowledge that does not transfer well across domains. As an example, in image classification, the traditional NAS searches for two good building blocks (convolutional and downsampling blocks), that it arranges following traditional conventions to create the full network.

To overcome these shortcomings and to extend access to AutoML solutions to the broader research community, we are excited to announce the open source release of Model Search, a platform that helps researchers develop the best ML models, efficiently and automatically. Instead of focusing on a specific domain, Model Search is domain agnostic, flexible and is capable of finding the appropriate architecture that best fits a given dataset and problem, while minimizing coding time, effort and compute resources. It is built on Tensorflow, and can run either on a single machine or in a distributed setting.

Overview
The Model Search system consists of multiple trainers, a search algorithm, a transfer learning algorithm and a database to store the various evaluated models. The system runs both training and evaluation experiments for various ML models (different architectures and training techniques) in an adaptive, yet asynchronous, fashion. While each trainer conducts experiments independently, all trainers share the knowledge gained from their experiments. At the beginning of every cycle, the search algorithm looks up all the completed trials and uses beam search to decide what to try next. It then invokes mutation over one of the best architectures found thus far and assigns the resulting model back to a trainer.

Model Search schematic illustrating the distributed search and ensembling. Each trainer runs independently to train and evaluate a given model. The results are shared with the search algorithm, which it stores. The search algorithm then invokes mutation over one of the best architectures and then sends the new model back to a trainer for the next iteration. S is the set of training and validation examples and A are all the candidates used during training and search.

The system builds a neural network model from a set of predefined blocks, each of which represents a known micro-architecture, like LSTM, ResNet or Transformer layers. By using blocks of pre-existing architectural components, Model Search is able to leverage existing best knowledge from NAS research across domains. This approach is also more efficient, because it explores structures, not their more fundamental and detailed components, therefore reducing the scale of the search space.

Neural network micro architecture blocks that work well, e.g., a ResNet Block.

Because the Model Search framework is built on Tensorflow, blocks can implement any function that takes a tensor as an input. For example, imagine that one wants to introduce a new search space built with a selection of micro architectures. The framework will take the newly defined blocks and incorporate them into the search process so that algorithms can build the best possible neural network from the components provided. The blocks provided can even be fully defined neural networks that are already known to work for the problem of interest. In that case, Model Search can be configured to simply act as a powerful ensembling machine.

The search algorithms implemented in Model Search are adaptive, greedy and incremental, which makes them converge faster than RL algorithms. They do however imitate the “explore & exploit” nature of RL algorithms by separating the search for a good candidate (explore step), and boosting accuracy by ensembling good candidates that were discovered (exploit step). The main search algorithm adaptively modifies one of the top k performing experiments (where k can be specified by the user) after applying random changes to the architecture or the training technique (e.g., making the architecture deeper).

An example of an evolution of a network over many experiments. Each color represents a different type of architecture block. The final network is formed via mutations of high performing candidate networks, in this case adding depth.

To further improve efficiency and accuracy, transfer learning is enabled between various internal experiments. Model Search does this in two ways — via knowledge distillation or weight sharing. Knowledge distillation allows one to improve candidates' accuracies by adding a loss term that matches the high performing models’ predictions in addition to the ground truth. Weight sharing, on the other hand, bootstraps some of the parameters (after applying mutation) in the network from previously trained candidates by copying suitable weights from previously trained models and randomly initializing the remaining ones. This enables faster training, which allows opportunities to discover more (and better) architectures.

Experimental Results
Model Search improves upon production models with minimal iterations. In a recent paper, we demonstrated the capabilities of Model Search in the speech domain by discovering a model for keyword spotting and language identification. Over fewer than 200 iterations, the resulting model slightly improved upon internal state-of-the-art production models designed by experts in accuracy using ~130K fewer trainable parameters (184K compared to 315K parameters).

Model accuracy given iteration in our system compared to the previous production model for keyword spotting, a similar graph can be found for language identification in the linked paper.

We also applied Model Search to find an architecture suitable for image classification on the heavily explored CIFAR-10 imaging dataset. Using a set known convolution blocks, including convolutions, resnet blocks (i.e., two convolutions and a skip connection), NAS-A cells, fully connected layers, etc., we observed that we were able to quickly reach a benchmark accuracy of 91.83 in 209 trials (i.e., exploring only 209 models). In comparison, previous top performers reached the same threshold accuracy in 5807 trials for the NasNet algorithm (RL), and 1160 for PNAS (RL + Progressive).

Conclusion
We hope the Model Search code will provide researchers with a flexible, domain-agnostic framework for ML model discovery. By building upon previous knowledge for a given domain, we believe that this framework is powerful enough to build models with the state-of-the-art performance on well studied problems when provided with a search space composed of standard building blocks.

Acknowledgements
Special thanks to all code contributors to the open sourcing and the paper: Eugen Ehotaj, Scotty Yak, Malaika Handa, James Preiss, Pai Zhu, Aleks Kracun, Prashant Sridhar, Niranjan Subrahmanya, Ignacio Lopez Moreno, Hyun Jin Park, and Patrick Violette.

Source: Google AI Blog


Introducing Model Search: An Open Source Platform for Finding Optimal ML Models

The success of a neural network (NN) often depends on how well it can generalize to various tasks. However, designing NNs that can generalize well is challenging because the research community's understanding of how a neural network generalizes is currently somewhat limited: What does the appropriate neural network look like for a given problem? How deep should it be? Which types of layers should be used? Would LSTMs be enough or would Transformer layers be better? Or maybe a combination of the two? Would ensembling or distillation boost performance? These tricky questions are made even more challenging when considering machine learning (ML) domains where there may exist better intuition and deeper understanding than others.

In recent years, AutoML algorithms have emerged [e.g., 1, 2, 3] to help researchers find the right neural network automatically without the need for manual experimentation. Techniques like neural architecture search (NAS), use algorithms, like reinforcement learning (RL), evolutionary algorithms, and combinatorial search, to build a neural network out of a given search space. With the proper setup, these techniques have demonstrated they are capable of delivering results that are better than the manually designed counterparts. But more often than not, these algorithms are compute heavy, and need thousands of models to train before converging. Moreover, they explore search spaces that are domain specific and incorporate substantial prior human knowledge that does not transfer well across domains. As an example, in image classification, the traditional NAS searches for two good building blocks (convolutional and downsampling blocks), that it arranges following traditional conventions to create the full network.

To overcome these shortcomings and to extend access to AutoML solutions to the broader research community, we are excited to announce the open source release of Model Search, a platform that helps researchers develop the best ML models, efficiently and automatically. Instead of focusing on a specific domain, Model Search is domain agnostic, flexible and is capable of finding the appropriate architecture that best fits a given dataset and problem, while minimizing coding time, effort and compute resources. It is built on Tensorflow, and can run either on a single machine or in a distributed setting.

Overview
The Model Search system consists of multiple trainers, a search algorithm, a transfer learning algorithm and a database to store the various evaluated models. The system runs both training and evaluation experiments for various ML models (different architectures and training techniques) in an adaptive, yet asynchronous, fashion. While each trainer conducts experiments independently, all trainers share the knowledge gained from their experiments. At the beginning of every cycle, the search algorithm looks up all the completed trials and uses beam search to decide what to try next. It then invokes mutation over one of the best architectures found thus far and assigns the resulting model back to a trainer.

Model Search schematic illustrating the distributed search and ensembling. Each trainer runs independently to train and evaluate a given model. The results are shared with the search algorithm, which it stores. The search algorithm then invokes mutation over one of the best architectures and then sends the new model back to a trainer for the next iteration. S is the set of training and validation examples and A are all the candidates used during training and search.

The system builds a neural network model from a set of predefined blocks, each of which represents a known micro-architecture, like LSTM, ResNet or Transformer layers. By using blocks of pre-existing architectural components, Model Search is able to leverage existing best knowledge from NAS research across domains. This approach is also more efficient, because it explores structures, not their more fundamental and detailed components, therefore reducing the scale of the search space.

Neural network micro architecture blocks that work well, e.g., a ResNet Block.

Because the Model Search framework is built on Tensorflow, blocks can implement any function that takes a tensor as an input. For example, imagine that one wants to introduce a new search space built with a selection of micro architectures. The framework will take the newly defined blocks and incorporate them into the search process so that algorithms can build the best possible neural network from the components provided. The blocks provided can even be fully defined neural networks that are already known to work for the problem of interest. In that case, Model Search can be configured to simply act as a powerful ensembling machine.

The search algorithms implemented in Model Search are adaptive, greedy and incremental, which makes them converge faster than RL algorithms. They do however imitate the “explore & exploit” nature of RL algorithms by separating the search for a good candidate (explore step), and boosting accuracy by ensembling good candidates that were discovered (exploit step). The main search algorithm adaptively modifies one of the top k performing experiments (where k can be specified by the user) after applying random changes to the architecture or the training technique (e.g., making the architecture deeper).

An example of an evolution of a network over many experiments. Each color represents a different type of architecture block. The final network is formed via mutations of high performing candidate networks, in this case adding depth.

To further improve efficiency and accuracy, transfer learning is enabled between various internal experiments. Model Search does this in two ways — via knowledge distillation or weight sharing. Knowledge distillation allows one to improve candidates' accuracies by adding a loss term that matches the high performing models’ predictions in addition to the ground truth. Weight sharing, on the other hand, bootstraps some of the parameters (after applying mutation) in the network from previously trained candidates by copying suitable weights from previously trained models and randomly initializing the remaining ones. This enables faster training, which allows opportunities to discover more (and better) architectures.

Experimental Results
Model Search improves upon production models with minimal iterations. In a recent paper, we demonstrated the capabilities of Model Search in the speech domain by discovering a model for keyword spotting and language identification. Over fewer than 200 iterations, the resulting model slightly improved upon internal state-of-the-art production models designed by experts in accuracy using ~130K fewer trainable parameters (184K compared to 315K parameters).

Model accuracy given iteration in our system compared to the previous production model for keyword spotting, a similar graph can be found for language identification in the linked paper.

We also applied Model Search to find an architecture suitable for image classification on the heavily explored CIFAR-10 imaging dataset. Using a set known convolution blocks, including convolutions, resnet blocks (i.e., two convolutions and a skip connection), NAS-A cells, fully connected layers, etc., we observed that we were able to quickly reach a benchmark accuracy of 91.83 in 209 trials (i.e., exploring only 209 models). In comparison, previous top performers reached the same threshold accuracy in 5807 trials for the NasNet algorithm (RL), and 1160 for PNAS (RL + Progressive).

Conclusion
We hope the Model Search code will provide researchers with a flexible, domain-agnostic framework for ML model discovery. By building upon previous knowledge for a given domain, we believe that this framework is powerful enough to build models with the state-of-the-art performance on well studied problems when provided with a search space composed of standard building blocks.

Acknowledgements
Special thanks to all code contributors to the open sourcing and the paper: Eugen Ehotaj, Scotty Yak, Malaika Handa, James Preiss, Pai Zhu, Aleks Kracun, Prashant Sridhar, Niranjan Subrahmanya, Ignacio Lopez Moreno, Hyun Jin Park, and Patrick Violette.

Source: Google AI Blog


Releasing the Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines

The Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines are blueprints for capturing a structured representation of the medical knowledge stored in digital text. In order to automatically map the textual insights to structured knowledge, the annotations generated using these guidelines are fed into a machine learning algorithm that learns to systematically extract the medical knowledge in the text. We’re pleased to release to the public the Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines as a standard.

Google Cloud recently launched AutoML Entity Extraction for Healthcare, a low-code tool used to build information extraction models for healthcare applications. There remains a significant execution roadblock on AutoML DIY initiatives caused by the complexity of translating the human cognitive process into machine-readable instructions. Today, this translation occurs thanks to human annotators who annotate text for relevant insights. Yet, training human annotators is a complex endeavor which requires knowledge across fields like linguistics and neuroscience, as well as a good understanding of the business domain. With AutoML, Google wanted to democratize who can build AI. The Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines are a starting point for annotation projects deployed for healthcare applications.

The guidelines provide a reference for training annotators in addition to explicit blueprints for several healthcare annotation tasks. The annotation guidelines cover the following:
  • The task of medical entity extraction with examples from medical entity types like medications, procedures, and body vitals.
  • Additional tasks with defined examples, such as entity relation annotation and entity attribute annotation. For instance, the guidelines specify how to relate a medical procedure entity to the source medical condition entity, or how to capture the attributes of a medication entity like dosage, frequency, and route of administration.
  • Guidance for annotating an entity’s contextual information like temporal assessment (e.g., current, family history, clinical history), certainty assessment (e.g., unlikely, somewhat likely, likely), and subject (e.g., patient, family member, other).
Google consulted with industry experts and academic institutions in the process of assembling the Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines. We took inspiration from other open source and research projects like i2b2 and added context to the guidelines to support information extraction needs for industry-applications like Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) quality reporting. The data types contained in the Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines are a common denominator across information extraction applications. Each industry application can have additional information extraction needs that are not captured in the current version of the guidelines. We chose to open source this asset so the community can tailor this project to their needs.

We’re thrilled to open source this project. We hope the community will contribute to the refinement and expansion of the Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines, so they mirror the ever-evolving nature of healthcare.

By Andreea Bodnari, Product Manager and Mikhail Begun, Program Manager—Google Cloud AI

Releasing the Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines

The Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines are blueprints for capturing a structured representation of the medical knowledge stored in digital text. In order to automatically map the textual insights to structured knowledge, the annotations generated using these guidelines are fed into a machine learning algorithm that learns to systematically extract the medical knowledge in the text. We’re pleased to release to the public the Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines as a standard.

Google Cloud recently launched AutoML Entity Extraction for Healthcare, a low-code tool used to build information extraction models for healthcare applications. There remains a significant execution roadblock on AutoML DIY initiatives caused by the complexity of translating the human cognitive process into machine-readable instructions. Today, this translation occurs thanks to human annotators who annotate text for relevant insights. Yet, training human annotators is a complex endeavor which requires knowledge across fields like linguistics and neuroscience, as well as a good understanding of the business domain. With AutoML, Google wanted to democratize who can build AI. The Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines are a starting point for annotation projects deployed for healthcare applications.

The guidelines provide a reference for training annotators in addition to explicit blueprints for several healthcare annotation tasks. The annotation guidelines cover the following:
  • The task of medical entity extraction with examples from medical entity types like medications, procedures, and body vitals.
  • Additional tasks with defined examples, such as entity relation annotation and entity attribute annotation. For instance, the guidelines specify how to relate a medical procedure entity to the source medical condition entity, or how to capture the attributes of a medication entity like dosage, frequency, and route of administration.
  • Guidance for annotating an entity’s contextual information like temporal assessment (e.g., current, family history, clinical history), certainty assessment (e.g., unlikely, somewhat likely, likely), and subject (e.g., patient, family member, other).
Google consulted with industry experts and academic institutions in the process of assembling the Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines. We took inspiration from other open source and research projects like i2b2 and added context to the guidelines to support information extraction needs for industry-applications like Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) quality reporting. The data types contained in the Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines are a common denominator across information extraction applications. Each industry application can have additional information extraction needs that are not captured in the current version of the guidelines. We chose to open source this asset so the community can tailor this project to their needs.

We’re thrilled to open source this project. We hope the community will contribute to the refinement and expansion of the Healthcare Text Annotation Guidelines, so they mirror the ever-evolving nature of healthcare.

By Andreea Bodnari, Product Manager and Mikhail Begun, Program Manager—Google Cloud AI

Doubling down on the edge with Coral’s new accelerator

Posted by The Coral Team

Coral image

Moving into the fall, the Coral platform continues to grow with the release of the M.2 Accelerator with Dual Edge TPU. Its first application is in Google’s Series One room kits where it helps to remove interruptions and makes the audio clearer for better video meetings. To help even more folks build products with Coral intelligence, we’re dropping the prices on several of our products. And for those folks that are looking to level up their at home video production, we’re sharing a demo of a pose based AI director to make multi-camera video easier to make.

Coral M.2 Accelerator with Dual Edge TPU

The newest addition to our product family brings two Edge TPU co-processors to systems in an M.2 E-key form factor. While the design requires a dual bus PCIe M.2 slot, it brings enhanced ML performance (8 TOPS) to tasks such as running two models in parallel or pipelining one large model across both Edge TPUs.

The ability to scale across multiple edge accelerators isn’t limited to only two Edge TPUs. As edge computing expands to local data centers, cell towers, and gateways, multi-Edge TPU configurations will be required to help process increasingly sophisticated ML models. Coral allows the use of a single toolchain to create models for one or more Edge TPUs that can address many different future configurations.

A great example of how the Coral M.2 Accelerator with Dual Edge TPU is being used is in the Series One meeting room kits for Google Meet.

The new Series One room kits for Google Meet run smarter with Coral intelligence

Coral image

Google’s new Series One room kits use our Coral M.2 Accelerator with Dual Edge TPU to bring enhanced audio clarity to video meetings. TrueVoice®, a multi-channel noise cancellation technology, minimizes distractions to ensure every voice is heard with up to 44 channels of echo and noise cancellation, making distracting sounds like snacking or typing on a keyboard a concern of the past.

Enabling the clearest possible communication in challenging environments was the target for the Google Meet hardware team. The consideration of what makes a challenging environment was not limited to unusually noisy environments, such as lunchrooms doubling as conference rooms. Any conference room can present challenging acoustics that make it difficult for all participants to be heard.

The secret to clarity without expensive and cumbersome equipment is to use virtual audio channels and AI driven sound isolation. Read more about how Coral was used to enhance and future-proof the innovative design.

Expanding the AI edge

Earlier this year, we reduced the prices of our prototyping devices and sensors. We are excited to share further price drops on more of our products. Our System-on-Module is now available for $99.99, and our Mini PCIe Accelerator, M.2 Accelerator A+E Key, and M.2 Accelerator B+M key are now available at $24.99. We hope this lower price will make our edge AI more accessible to more creative minds around the world. Later, this month our SoM offering will also expand to include 2 and 4GB RAM options.

Multi-cam with AI

Coral image

As we expand our platform and product family, we continue to keep new edge AI use cases in mind. We are continually inspired by our developer community’s experimentation and implementations. When recently faced with the challenges of multicam video production from home, Markku Lepistö, Solutions Architect at Google Cloud, created this real-time pose-based multicam tool he so aptly dubbed, AI Director.

We love seeing such unique implementations of on-device ML and invite you to share your own projects and feedback at [email protected].

For a list of worldwide distributors, system integrators and partners, visit the Coral partnerships page. Please visit Coral.ai to discover more about our edge ML platform.

Doubling down on the edge with Coral’s new accelerator

Posted by The Coral Team

Coral image

Moving into the fall, the Coral platform continues to grow with the release of the M.2 Accelerator with Dual Edge TPU. Its first application is in Google’s Series One room kits where it helps to remove interruptions and makes the audio clearer for better video meetings. To help even more folks build products with Coral intelligence, we’re dropping the prices on several of our products. And for those folks that are looking to level up their at home video production, we’re sharing a demo of a pose based AI director to make multi-camera video easier to make.

Coral M.2 Accelerator with Dual Edge TPU

The newest addition to our product family brings two Edge TPU co-processors to systems in an M.2 E-key form factor. While the design requires a dual bus PCIe M.2 slot, it brings enhanced ML performance (8 TOPS) to tasks such as running two models in parallel or pipelining one large model across both Edge TPUs.

The ability to scale across multiple edge accelerators isn’t limited to only two Edge TPUs. As edge computing expands to local data centers, cell towers, and gateways, multi-Edge TPU configurations will be required to help process increasingly sophisticated ML models. Coral allows the use of a single toolchain to create models for one or more Edge TPUs that can address many different future configurations.

A great example of how the Coral M.2 Accelerator with Dual Edge TPU is being used is in the Series One meeting room kits for Google Meet.

The new Series One room kits for Google Meet run smarter with Coral intelligence

Coral image

Google’s new Series One room kits use our Coral M.2 Accelerator with Dual Edge TPU to bring enhanced audio clarity to video meetings. TrueVoice®, a multi-channel noise cancellation technology, minimizes distractions to ensure every voice is heard with up to 44 channels of echo and noise cancellation, making distracting sounds like snacking or typing on a keyboard a concern of the past.

Enabling the clearest possible communication in challenging environments was the target for the Google Meet hardware team. The consideration of what makes a challenging environment was not limited to unusually noisy environments, such as lunchrooms doubling as conference rooms. Any conference room can present challenging acoustics that make it difficult for all participants to be heard.

The secret to clarity without expensive and cumbersome equipment is to use virtual audio channels and AI driven sound isolation. Read more about how Coral was used to enhance and future-proof the innovative design.

Expanding the AI edge

Earlier this year, we reduced the prices of our prototyping devices and sensors. We are excited to share further price drops on more of our products. Our System-on-Module is now available for $99.99, and our Mini PCIe Accelerator, M.2 Accelerator A+E Key, and M.2 Accelerator B+M key are now available at $24.99. We hope this lower price will make our edge AI more accessible to more creative minds around the world. Later, this month our SoM offering will also expand to include 2 and 4GB RAM options.

Multi-cam with AI

Coral image

As we expand our platform and product family, we continue to keep new edge AI use cases in mind. We are continually inspired by our developer community’s experimentation and implementations. When recently faced with the challenges of multicam video production from home, Markku Lepistö, Solutions Architect at Google Cloud, created this real-time pose-based multicam tool he so aptly dubbed, AI Director.

We love seeing such unique implementations of on-device ML and invite you to share your own projects and feedback at [email protected].

For a list of worldwide distributors, system integrators and partners, visit the Coral partnerships page. Please visit Coral.ai to discover more about our edge ML platform.

Summer updates from Coral

Posted by the Coral Team

Summer has arrived along with a number of Coral updates. We're happy to announce a new partnership with balena that helps customers build, manage, and deploy IoT applications at scale on Coral devices. In addition, we've released a series of updates to expand platform compatibility, make development easier, and improve the ML capabilities of our devices.

Open-source Edge TPU runtime now available on GitHub

First up, our Edge TPU runtime is now open-source and available on GitHub, including scripts and instructions for building the library for Linux and Windows. Customers running a platform that is not officially supported by Coral, including ARMv7 and RISC-V can now compile the Edge TPU runtime themselves and start experimenting. An open source runtime is easier to integrate into your customized build pipeline, enabling support for creating Yocto-based images as well as other distributions.

Windows drivers now available for the Mini PCIe and M.2 accelerators

Coral customers can now also use the Mini PCIe and M.2 accelerators on the Microsoft Windows platform. New Windows drivers for these products complement the previously released Windows drivers for the USB accelerator and make it possible to start prototyping with the Coral USB Accelerator on Windows and then to move into production with our Mini PCIe and M.2 products.

New fresh bits on the Coral ML software stack

We’ve also made a number of new updates to our ML tools:

  • The Edge TPU compiler is now version 14.1. It can be updated by running sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install edgetpu, or follow the instructions here
  • Our new Model Pipelining API allows you to divide your model across multiple Edge TPUs. The C++ version is currently in beta and the source is on GitHub
  • New embedding extractor models for EfficientNet, for use with on-device backpropagation. Embedding extractor models are compiled with the last fully-connected layer removed, allowing you to retrain for classification. Previously, only Inception and MobileNet were available and now retraining can also be done on EfficientNet
  • New Colab notebooks to retrain a classification model with TensorFlow 2.0 and build C++ examples

Balena partners with Coral to enable AI at the edge

We are excited to share that the Balena fleet management platform now supports Coral products!

Companies running a fleet of ML-enabled devices on the edge need to keep their systems up-to-date with the latest security patches in order to protect data, model IP and hardware from being compromised. Additionally, ML applications benefit from being consistently retrained to recognize new use cases with maximum accuracy. Coral + balena together, bring simplicity and ease to the provisioning, deployment, updating, and monitoring of your ML project at the edge, moving early prototyping seamlessly towards production environments with many thousands of devices.

Read more about all the benefits of Coral devices combined with balena container technology or get started deploying container images to your Coral fleet with this demo project.

New version of Mendel Linux

Mendel Linux (5.0 release Eagle) is now available for the Coral Dev Board and SoM and includes a more stable package repository that provides a smoother updating experience. It also brings compatibility improvements and a new version of the GPU driver.

New models

Last but not least, we’ve recently released BodyPix, a Google person-segmentation model that was previously only available for TensorFlow.JS, as a Coral model. This enables real-time privacy preserving understanding of where people (and body parts) are on a camera frame. We first demoed this at CES 2020 and it was one of our most popular demos. Using BodyPix we can remove people from the frame, display only their outline, and aggregate over time to see heat maps of population flow.

Here are two possible applications of BodyPix: Body-part segmentation and anonymous population flow. Both are running on the Dev Board.

We’re excited to add BodyPix to the portfolio of projects the community is using to extend our models far beyond our demos—including tackling today’s biggest challenges. For example, Neuralet has taken our MobileNet V2 SSD Detection model and used it to implement Smart Social Distancing. Using the bounding box of person detection, they can compute a region for safe distancing and let a user know if social distance isn’t being maintained. The best part is this is done without any sort of facial recognition or tracking, with Coral we can accomplish this in real-time in a privacy preserving manner.

We can’t wait to see more projects that the community can make with BodyPix. Beyond anonymous population flow there’s endless possibilities with background and body part manipulation. Let us know what you come up with at our community channels, including GitHub and StackOverflow.

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We are excited to share all that Coral has to offer as we continue to evolve our platform. For a list of worldwide distributors, system integrators and partners, including balena, visit the Coral partnerships page. Please visit Coral.ai to discover more about our edge ML platform and share your feedback at [email protected].

AutoML-Zero: Evolving Code that Learns



Machine learning (ML) has seen tremendous successes recently, which were made possible by ML algorithms like deep neural networks that were discovered through years of expert research. The difficulty involved in this research fueled AutoML, a field that aims to automate the design of ML algorithms. So far, AutoML has focused on constructing solutions by combining sophisticated hand-designed components. A typical example is that of neural architecture search, a subfield in which one builds neural networks automatically out of complex layers (e.g., convolutions, batch-norm, and dropout), and the topic of much research.

An alternative approach to using these hand-designed components in AutoML is to search for entire algorithms from scratch. This is challenging because it requires the exploration of vast and sparse search spaces, yet it has great potential benefits — it is not biased toward what we already know and potentially allows for the discovery of new and better ML architectures. By analogy, if one were building a house from scratch, there is more potential for flexibility or improvement than if one was constructing a house using only prefabricated rooms. However, the discovery of such housing designs may be more difficult because there are many more possible ways to combine the bricks and mortar than there are of combining pre-made designs of entire rooms. As such, early research into algorithm learning from scratch focused on one aspect of the algorithm, to reduce the search space and compute required, such as the learning rule, and has not been revisited much since the early 90s. Until now.

Extending our research into evolutionary AutoML, our recent paper, to be published at ICML 2020, demonstrates that it is possible to successfully evolve ML algorithms from scratch. The approach we propose, called AutoML-Zero, starts from empty programs and, using only basic mathematical operations as building blocks, applies evolutionary methods to automatically find the code for complete ML algorithms. Given small image classification problems, our method rediscovered fundamental ML techniques, such as 2-layer neural networks with backpropagation, linear regression and the like, which have been invented by researchers throughout the years. This result demonstrates the plausibility of automatically discovering more novel ML algorithms to address harder problems in the future.

Evolving Learning Algorithms from Scratch
We use a variant of classic evolutionary methods to search the space of algorithms. These methods have proved useful in discovering computer programs since the 80s. Their simplicity and scalability makes them especially suitable for the discovery of learning algorithms.

In our case, a population is initialized with empty programs. It then evolves in repeating cycles to produce better and better learning algorithms. At each cycle, two (or more) random models compete and the most accurate model gets to be a parent. The parent clones itself to produce a child, which gets mutated. That is, the child’s code is modified in a random way, which could mean, for example, arbitrarily inserting, removing or modifying a line in the code. The mutated algorithm is then evaluated on image classification tasks.
A population is initialized with empty programs. Many generations later, we see a more evolved population and two of its algorithms compete. The most accurate wins to produce a child. After many such events, the final population contains highly accurate classifiers.
Exploring a Difficult Search Space
Our AutoML-Zero setup, in contrast to much previous AutoML work, makes the search space very sparse — an accurate algorithm might be as rare as 1 in 1012 candidates. This is due to the granularity of the building blocks provided to the algorithm, which include only basic operations such as variable assignment, addition, and matrix multiplication. In such an environment, a random search will not find a solution in a reasonable amount of time, yet evolution can be tens of thousands of times faster, according to our measurements. We distributed the search on multiple machines that occasionally exchange algorithms (analogous to migration in real life). We also constructed small proxy classification tasks on which to evaluate each child algorithm, and executed this evaluation with highly optimized code.

Despite the sparsity, the evolutionary search discovers more complex and effective techniques as time passes. Initially, the simplest algorithms appear, which represent linear models with hard-coded weights. In time, stochastic gradient descent (SGD) is invented to learn the weights, in spite of the gradient itself not having been provided as a building block. Though flawed at first, SGD gets fixed relatively quickly, starting a series of improvements to the prediction and learning algorithm. Within our toy scenario, the process discovers several concepts known to have been useful to the research community. In the end, our approach manages to construct a model that outperforms hand-designs of comparable complexity.
Progress of an evolution experiment. As time passes, from left to right, we see the algorithms becoming more complex and more accurate.
The Evolved Algorithm
The figure above includes the best evolved algorithm produced by our method. This final algorithm includes techniques such as noise injection as data augmentation, bilinear model, gradient normalization, and weight averaging, and the improvement over the baseline also transfers to datasets that are not used during search. Our paper describes how the different lines in the evolved code implement each of these techniques, and verifies their value through ablation studies.

Through more experiments, we show that it is possible to guide the evolutionary search by controlling "the habitat" — i.e., the tasks on which the evolutionary process evaluates the fitness of the algorithms. For example, when we reduce the amount of data, the noisy ReLU emerges, which helps with regularization. Or when we reduce the number of training steps, we witness the emergence of learning rate decay, which enables faster convergence. Targeted discoveries such as these are important — while it may be interesting if an automatic tool-inventing machine comes up with a hammer or a needle, it is much more interesting if it comes up with a hammer when you show it some nails and a needle when you show it some thread. By analogy, in our work the noisy ReLU ("hammer") is discovered when in the presence of little data ("nails") and the learning rate decay when in the presence of few training steps.

Conclusion
We consider this to be preliminary work. We have yet to evolve fundamentally new algorithms, but it is encouraging that the evolved algorithm can surpass simple neural networks that exist within the search space. Right now, the search process requires significant compute.* As the coming years scale up available hardware and as the search methods become more efficient, it is likely that the search space will become more inclusive and the results will improve. We are excited at the prospects of discovering novel machine learning algorithms as we further our understanding of AutoML-Zero.

Acknowledgements
We want to thank our co-authors, David R. So and Quoc V. Le, and the many who helped us through discussions during the project and paper writing, including Samy Bengio, Vincent Vanhoucke, Doug Eck, Charles Sutton, Yanping Huang, Jacques Pienaar, Jeff Dean, and particularly Gabriel Bender, Hanxiao Liu, Rishabh Singh, Chiyuan Zhang, and Hieu Pham. We also want to especially thank Tom Small for contributing the animations in this post.


* The electricity consumption for the experiments (run in 2019) was matched with the purchase of renewable energy.

Source: Google AI Blog


Building a more resilient world together

Posted by Billy Rutledge, Director of the Coral team

UNDP Hackster.io COVID19 Detect Protect Poster

Recently, we’ve seen communities respond to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic by using technology in new ways to effect positive change. It’s increasingly important that our systems are able to adapt to new contexts, handle disruptions, and remain efficient.

At Coral, we believe intelligence at the edge is a key ingredient towards building a more resilient future. By making the latest machine learning tools easy-to-use and accessible, innovators can collaborate to create solutions that are most needed in their communities. Developers are already using Coral to build solutions that can understand and react in real-time, while maintaining privacy for everyone present.

Helping our communities stay safe, together

As mandatory isolation measures begin to relax, compliance with safe social distancing protocol has become a topic of primary concern for experts across the globe. Businesses and individuals have been stepping up to find ways to use technology to help reduce the risk and spread. Many efforts are employing the benefits of edge AI—here are a few early stage examples that have inspired us.

woman and child crossing the street

In Belgium, engineers at Edgise recently used Coral to develop an occupancy monitor to aid businesses in managing capacity. With the privacy preserving properties of edge AI, businesses can anonymously count how many customers enter and exit a space, signaling when the area is too full.

A research group at the Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology in India are using Coral to develop a wearable device to serve as a COVID-19 cough counter and health monitor, allowing medical professionals to better care for low risk patients in an outpatient capacity. Coral's Edge TPU enables biometric data to be processed efficiently, without draining the limited power resources available in wearable devices.

All across the US, hospitals are seeking solutions to ensure adherence to hygiene policy amongst hospital staff. In one example, a device incorporates the compact, affordable and offline benefits of the Coral modules to aid in handwashing practices at numerous stations throughout a facility.

And around the world, members of the PyImageSearch community are exploring how to train a COVID-19: Face Mask Detector model using TensorFlow that can be used to identify whether people are wearing a mask. Open source frameworks can empower anyone to develop solutions, and with Coral components we can help bring those benefits to everyone.

Eliciting a global response

In an effort to rally greater community involvement, Coral has joined The United Nations Development Programme and Hackster.io, as a sponsor of the COVID-19 Detect and Protect Challenge. The initiative calls on developers to build affordable and reproducible solutions that support response efforts in developing countries. All ideas are welcome—whether they use ML or not—and we encourage you to participate.

To make edge ML capabilities even easier to integrate, we’re also announcing a price reduction for the Coral products widely used for experimentation and prototyping. Our Dev Board will now be offered at $129.99, the USB Accelerator at $59.99, the Camera Module at $19.99, and the Enviro Board at $14.99. Additionally, we are introducing the USB Accelerator into 10 new markets: Ghana, Thailand, Singapore, Oman, Philippines, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Israel, and Vietnam. For more details, visit Coral.ai/products.

We’re excited to see the solutions developers will bring forward with Coral. And as always, please keep sending us feedback at [email protected]