This is the class from which all layers inherit.

Inherits From: Module

Used in the notebooks

Used in the guide Used in the tutorials

A layer is a callable object that takes as input one or more tensors and that outputs one or more tensors. It involves computation, defined in the call() method, and a state (weight variables), defined either in the constructor __init__() or in the build() method.

Users will just instantiate a layer and then treat it as a callable.

trainable Boolean, whether the layer's variables should be trainable.
name String name of the layer.
dtype The dtype of the layer's computations and weights (default of None means use tf.keras.backend.floatx in TensorFlow 2, or the type of the first input in TensorFlow 1).
dynamic Set this to True if your layer should only be run eagerly, and should not be used to generate a static computation graph. This would be the case for a Tree-RNN or a recursive network, for example, or generally for any layer that manipulates tensors using Python control flow. If False, we assume that the layer can safely be used to generate a static computation graph.

We recommend that descendants of Layer implement the following methods:

  • __init__(): Defines custom layer attributes, and creates layer state variables that do not depend on input shapes, using add_weight().
  • build(self, input_shape): This method can be used to create weights that depend on the shape(s) of the input(s), using add_weight(). __call__() will automatically build the layer (if it has not been built yet) by calling build().
  • call(self, *args, **kwargs): Called in __call__ after making sure build() has been called. call() performs the logic of applying the layer to the input tensors (which should be passed in as argument). Two reserved keyword arguments you can optionally use in call() are:
    • training (boolean, whether the call is in inference mode or training mode)
    • mask (boolean tensor encoding masked timesteps in the input, used in RNN layers)
  • get_config(self): Returns a dictionary containing the configuration used to initialize this layer. If the keys differ from the arguments in __init__, then override from_config(self) as well. This method is used when saving the layer or a model that contains this layer.


Here's a basic example: a layer with two variables, w and b, that returns y = w . x + b. It shows how to implement build() and call(). Variables set as attributes of a layer are tracked as weights of the layers (in layer.weights).

class SimpleDense(Layer):

  def __init__(self, units=32):
      super(SimpleDense, self).__init__()
      self.units = units

  def build(self, input_shape):  # Create the state of the layer (weights)
    w_init = tf.random_normal_initializer()
    self.w = tf.Variable(
        initial_value=w_init(shape=(input_shape[-1], self.units),
    b_init = tf.zeros_initializer()
    self.b = tf.Variable(
        initial_value=b_init(shape=(self.units,), dtyp