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import numpy as np import tensorflow as tf from tensorflow import keras from tensorflow.keras import layers
Masking is a way to tell sequence-processing layers that certain timesteps in an input are missing, and thus should be skipped when processing the data.
Padding is a special form of masking where the masked steps are at the start or the end of a sequence. Padding comes from the need to encode sequence data into contiguous batches: in order to make all sequences in a batch fit a given standard length, it is necessary to pad or truncate some sequences.
Let's take a close look.
Padding sequence data
When processing sequence data, it is very common for individual samples to have different lengths. Consider the following example (text tokenized as words):
[ ["Hello", "world", "!"], ["How", "are", "you", "doing", "today"], ["The", "weather", "will", "be", "nice", "tomorrow"], ]
After vocabulary lookup, the data might be vectorized as integers, e.g.:
[ [71, 1331, 4231] [73, 8, 3215, 55, 927], [83, 91, 1, 645, 1253, 927], ]
The data is a nested list where individual samples have length 3, 5, and 6,
respectively. Since the input data for a deep learning model must be a single tensor
(of shape e.g.
(batch_size, 6, vocab_size) in this case), samples that are shorter
than the longest item need to be padded with some placeholder value (alternatively,
one might also truncate long samples before padding short samples).
Keras provides a utility function to truncate and pad Python lists to a common length:
raw_inputs = [ [711, 632, 71], [73, 8, 3215, 55, 927], [83, 91, 1, 645, 1253, 927], ] # By default, this will pad using 0s; it is configurable via the # "value" parameter. # Note that you could "pre" padding (at the beginning) or # "post" padding (at the end). # We recommend using "post" padding when working with RNN layers # (in order to be able to use the # CuDNN implementation of the layers). padded_inputs = tf.keras.preprocessing.sequence.pad_sequences( raw_inputs, padding="post" ) print(padded_inputs)
[[ 711 632 71 0 0 0] [ 73 8 3215 55 927 0] [ 83 91 1 645 1253 927]]
Now that all samples have a uniform length, the model must be informed that some part of the data is actually padding and should be ignored. That mechanism is masking.
There are three ways to introduce input masks in Keras models:
- Add a
- Configure a
- Pass a
maskargument manually when calling layers that support this argument (e.g. RNN layers).
Under the hood, these layers will create a mask tensor (2D tensor with shape
sequence_length)), and attach it to the tensor output returned by the
embedding = layers.Embedding(input_dim=5000, output_dim=16, mask_zero=True) masked_output = embedding(padded_inputs) print(masked_output._keras_mask) masking_layer = layers.Masking() # Simulate the embedding lookup by expanding the 2D input to 3D, # with embedding dimension of 10. unmasked_embedding = tf.cast( tf.tile(tf.expand_dims(padded_inputs, axis=-1), [1, 1, 10]), tf.float32 ) masked_embedding = masking_layer(unmasked_embedding) print(masked_embedding._keras_mask)
tf.Tensor( [[ True True True False False False] [ True True True True True False] [ True True True True True True]], shape=(3, 6), dtype=bool) tf.Tensor( [[ True True True False False False] [ True True True True True False] [ True True True True True True]], shape=(3, 6), dtype=bool)
As you can see from the printed result, the mask is a 2D boolean tensor with shape
(batch_size, sequence_length), where each individual
False entry indicates that
the corresponding timestep should be ignored during processing.
Mask propagation in the Functional API and Sequential API
When using the Functional API or the Sequential API, a mask generated by an
Masking layer will be propagated through the network for any layer that is
capable of using them (for example, RNN layers). Keras will automatically fetch the
mask corresponding to an input and pass it to any layer that knows how to use it.
For instance, in the following Sequential model, the
LSTM layer will automatically
receive a mask, which means it will ignore padded values:
model = keras.Sequential( [layers.Embedding(input_dim=5000, output_dim=16, mask_zero=True), layers.LSTM(32),] )
This is also the case for the following Functional API model:
inputs = keras.Input(shape=(None,), dtype="int32") x = layers.Embedding(input_dim=5000, output_dim=16, mask_zero=True)(inputs) outputs = layers.LSTM(32)(x) model = keras.Model(inputs, outputs)
Passing mask tensors directly to layers
Layers that can handle masks (such as the
LSTM layer) have a
mask argument in their
Meanwhile, layers that produce a mask (e.g.
Embedding) expose a
previous_mask) method which you can call.
Thus, you can pass the output of the
compute_mask() method of a mask-producing layer
__call__ method of a mask-consuming layer, like this:
class MyLayer(layers.Layer): def __init__(self, **kwargs): super(MyLayer, self).__init__(**kwargs) self.embedding = layers.Embedding(input_dim=5000, output_dim=16, mask_zero=True) self.lstm = layers.LSTM(32) def call(self, inputs): x = self.embedding(inputs) # Note that you could also prepare a `mask` tensor manually. # It only needs to be a boolean tensor # with the right shape, i.e. (batch_size, timesteps). mask = self.embedding.compute_mask(inputs) output = self.lstm(x, mask=mask) # The layer will ignore the masked values return output layer = MyLayer() x = np.random.random((32, 10)) * 100 x = x.astype("int32") layer(x)
<tf.Tensor: shape=(32, 32), dtype=float32, numpy= array([[-3.6287602e-04, 8.8942451e-03, -4.5623952e-03, ..., 3.6509466e-04, -4.3871473e-03, -1.7532009e-03], [ 2.6261162e-03, -2.5420082e-03, 7.6517118e-03, ..., 5.8210879e-03, -1.5617531e-03, -1.7562184e-03], [ 6.8687932e-03, 1.2330032e-03, -1.2028826e-02, ..., 2.0486799e-03, 5.7172528e-03, 2.6641595e-03], ..., [-3.4327951e-04, 1.3967649e-03, -1.2102776e-02, ..., 3.8406218e-03, -2.3374180e-03, -4.9669710e-03], [-2.3023323e-03, 1.8474255e-03, 2.7329330e-05, ..., 6.1798934e-03, 4.2709545e-04, 3.9026213e-03], [ 7.4090287e-03, 1.9879336e-03, -2.0261200e-03, ..., 8.2100276e-03, 8.7051848e-03, 9.9167246e-03]], dtype=float32)>
Supporting masking in your custom layers
Sometimes, you may need to write layers that generate a mask (like
layers that need to modify the current mask.
For instance, any layer that produces a tensor with a different time dimension than its
input, such as a
Concatenate layer that concatenates on the time dimension, will
need to modify the current mask so that downstream layers will be able to properly
take masked timesteps into account.
To do this, your layer should implement the
layer.compute_mask() method, which
produces a new mask given the input and the current mask.
Here is an example of a
TemporalSplit layer that needs to modify the current mask.
class TemporalSplit(keras.layers.Layer): """Split the input tensor into 2 tensors along the time dimension.""" def call(self, inputs): # Expect the input to be 3D and mask to be 2D, split the input tensor into 2 # subtensors along the time axis (axis 1). return tf.split(inputs, 2, axis=1) def compute_mask(self, inputs, mask=None): # Also split the mask into 2 if it presents. if mask is None: return None return tf.split(mask, 2, axis=1) first_half, second_half = TemporalSplit()(masked_embedding) print(first_half._keras_mask) print(second_half._keras_mask)
tf.Tensor( [[ True True True] [ True True True] [ True True True]], shape=(3, 3), dtype=bool) tf.Tensor( [[False False False] [ True True False] [ True True True]], shape=(3, 3), dtype=bool)
Here is another example of a
CustomEmbedding layer that is capable of generating a
mask from input values:
class CustomEmbedding(keras.layers.Layer): def __init__(self, input_dim, output_dim, mask_zero=False, **kwargs): super(CustomEmbedding, self).__init__(**kwargs) self.input_dim = input_dim self.output_dim = output_dim self.mask_zero = mask_zero def build(self, input_shape): self.embeddings = self.add_weight( shape=(self.input_dim, self.output_dim), initializer="random_normal", dtype="float32", ) def call(self, inputs): return tf.nn.embedding_lookup(self.embeddings, inputs) def compute_mask(self, inputs, mask=None): if not self.mask_zero: return None return tf.not_equal(inputs, 0) layer = CustomEmbedding(10, 32, mask_zero=True) x = np.random.random((3, 10)) * 9 x = x.astype("int32") y = layer(x) mask = layer.compute_mask(x) print(mask)
tf.Tensor( [[ True True True True True True True True True True] [ True True True True True False True True True True] [ True True True True True True True True False True]], shape=(3, 10), dtype=bool)
Opting-in to mask propagation on compatible layers
Most layers don't modify the time dimension, so don't need to modify the current mask. However, they may still want to be able to propagate the current mask, unchanged, to the next layer. This is an opt-in behavior. By default, a custom layer will destroy the current mask (since the framework has no way to tell whether propagating the mask is safe to do).
If you have a custom layer that does not modify the time dimension, and if you want it
to be able to propagate the current input mask, you should set
= True in the layer constructor. In this case, the default behavior of
compute_mask() is to just pass the current mask through.
Here's an example of a layer that is whitelisted for mask propagation:
class MyActivation(keras.layers.Layer): def __init__(self, **kwargs): super(MyActivation, self).__init__(**kwargs) # Signal that the layer is safe for mask propagation self.supports_masking = True def call(self, inputs): return tf.nn.relu(inputs)
You can now use this custom layer in-between a mask-generating layer (like
and a mask-consuming layer (like
LSTM), and it will pass the mask along so that it
reaches the mask-consuming layer.
inputs = keras.Input(shape=(None,), dtype="int32") x = layers.Embedding(input_dim=5000, output_dim=16, mask_zero=True)(inputs) x = MyActivation()(x) # Will pass the mask along print("Mask found:", x._keras_mask) outputs = layers.LSTM(32)(x) # Will receive the mask model = keras.Model(inputs, outputs)
Mask found: KerasTensor(type_spec=TensorSpec(shape=(None, None), dtype=tf.bool, name=None), name='Placeholder_1:0')
Writing layers that need mask information
Some layers are mask consumers: they accept a
mask argument in
call and use it to
determine whether to skip certain time steps.
To write such a layer, you can simply add a
mask=None argument in your
signature. The mask associated with the inputs will be passed to your layer whenever
it is available.
Here's a simple example below: a layer that computes a softmax over the time dimension (axis 1) of an input sequence, while discarding masked timesteps.
class TemporalSoftmax(keras.layers.Layer): def call(self, inputs, mask=None): broadcast_float_mask = tf.expand_dims(tf.cast(mask, "float32"), -1) inputs_exp = tf.exp(inputs) * broadcast_float_mask inputs_sum = tf.reduce_sum( inputs_exp * broadcast_float_mask, axis=-1, keepdims=True ) return inputs_exp / inputs_sum inputs = keras.Input(shape=(None,), dtype="int32") x = layers.Embedding(input_dim=10, output_dim=32, mask_zero=True)(inputs) x = layers.Dense(1)(x) outputs = TemporalSoftmax()(x) model = keras.Model(inputs, outputs) y = model(np.random.randint(0, 10, size=(32, 100)), np.random.random((32, 100, 1)))
That is all you need to know about padding & masking in Keras. To recap:
- "Masking" is how layers are able to know when to skip / ignore certain timesteps in sequence inputs.
- Some layers are mask-generators:
Embeddingcan generate a mask from input values (if
mask_zero=True), and so can the
- Some layers are mask-consumers: they expose a
maskargument in their
__call__method. This is the case for RNN layers.
- In the Functional API and Sequential API, mask information is propagated automatically.
- When using layers in a standalone way, you can pass the
maskarguments to layers manually.
- You can easily write layers that modify the current mask, that generate a new mask, or that consume the mask associated with the inputs.