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See the Variables Guide.

Inherits From: Variable

Used in the notebooks

Used in the tutorials

A variable maintains state in the graph across calls to run(). You add a variable to the graph by constructing an instance of the class Variable.

The Variable() constructor requires an initial value for the variable, which can be a Tensor of any type and shape. The initial value defines the type and shape of the variable. After construction, the type and shape of the variable are fixed. The value can be changed using one of the assign methods.

If you want to change the shape of a variable later you have to use an assign Op with validate_shape=False.

Just like any Tensor, variables created with Variable() can be used as inputs for other Ops in the graph. Additionally, all the operators overloaded for the Tensor class are carried over to variables, so you can also add nodes to the graph by just doing arithmetic on variables.

import tensorflow as tf

# Create a variable.
w = tf.Variable(<initial-value>, name=<optional-name>)

# Use the variable in the graph like any Tensor.
y = tf.matmul(w, ...another variable or tensor...)

# The overloaded operators are available too.
z = tf.sigmoid(w + y)

# Assign a new value to the variable with `assign()` or a related method.
w.assign(w + 1.0)

When you launch the graph, variables have to be explicitly initialized before you can run Ops that use their value. You can initialize a variable by running its initializer op, restoring the variable from a save file, or simply running an assign Op that assigns a value to the variable. In fact, the variable initializer op is just an assign Op that assigns the variable's initial value to the variable itself.

# Launch the graph in a session.
with tf.compat.v1.Session() as sess:
    # Run the variable initializer.
    # now can run ops that use the value of 'w'...

The most common initialization pattern is to use the convenience function global_variables_initializer() to add an Op to the graph that initializes all the variables. You then run that Op after launching the graph.

# Add an Op to initialize global variables.
init_op = tf.compat.v1.global_variables_initializer()

# Launch the graph in a session.
with tf.compat.v1.Session() as sess:
    # Run the Op that initializes global variables.
    # can now run any Op that uses variable values...

If you need to create a variable with an initial value dependent on another variable, use the other variable's initialized_value(). This ensures that variables are initialized in the right order.

All variables are automatically collected in the graph where they are created. By default, the constructor adds the new variable to the graph collection GraphKeys.GLOBAL_VARIABLES. The convenience function global_variables() returns the contents of that collection.

When building a machine learning model it is often convenient to distinguish between variables holding the trainable model parameters and other variables such as a global step variable used to count training steps. To make this easier, the variable constructor supports a trainable=<bool> parameter. If True, the new variable is also added to the graph collection GraphKeys.TRAINABLE_VARIABLES. The convenience function trainable_variables() returns the contents of this collection. The various Optimizer classes use this collection as the default list of variables to optimize.

v = tf.Variable(True)
tf.cond(v, lambda: v.assign(False), my_false_fn)  # Note: this is broken.

Here, adding use_resource=True when constructing the variable will fix any nondeterminism issues:

v = tf.Variable(True, use_resource=True)
tf.cond(v, lambda: v.assign(False), my_false_fn)

To use the replacement for variables which does not have these issues:

initial_value A Tensor, or Python object convertible to a Tensor, which is the initial value for the Variable. The initial value must have a shape specified unless validate_shape is set to False. Can also be a callable with no argumen