## Saturday 30 June 2012

### Machine Learning Course Completed

I'm pleased to say that I have now completed Andrew Ng's machine learning course, which is offered through Coursera. This post is not intended to be a review of the course, which in my opinion is extremely good and very useful, but more of a reflection of my thoughts and what I think will be useful for me personally.

Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised that the software/programming language of instruction was Octave, which regular readers of this blog will know is my main software of choice. Apart from learning the concepts of ML, I also picked up some handy tips for Octave programming, and more importantly for me I now have a set of working Octave ML functions that I can use immediately in my system development.

In my previous post I mentioned that my first attempt at using ML will be to use a Neural Net to classify market types. As background to this, readers might be interested in a pdf file of the video lectures, available from here, which was put together and posted on the course discussion forum by another student - I think this is very good and all credit to said student, José Soares Augusto.

Due to the honour code ( or honor code for American readers ) of the course I will be unable to post the code that I wrote for the programming assignments. However, I do feel that I can post the code shown in the code box below, as the copyright notice allows it. A few slight changes I made are noted in the copyright notice. This is a minimisation function that was used in the training of the Neural Net assignment and was provided in the assignment download.
``````function [X, fX, i] = fmincg(f, X, options, P1, P2, P3, P4, P5)
% Minimize a continuous differentialble multivariate function. Starting point
% is given by "X" (D by 1), and the function named in the string "f", must
% return a function value and a vector of partial derivatives. The Polack-
% Ribiere flavour of conjugate gradients is used to compute search directions,
% and a line search using quadratic and cubic polynomial approximations and the
% Wolfe-Powell stopping criteria is used together with the slope ratio method
% for guessing initial step sizes. Additionally a bunch of checks are made to
% make sure that exploration is taking place and that extrapolation will not
% be unboundedly large. The "length" gives the length of the run: if it is
% positive, it gives the maximum number of line searches, if negative its
% absolute gives the maximum allowed number of function evaluations. You can
% (optionally) give "length" a second component, which will indicate the
% reduction in function value to be expected in the first line-search (defaults
% to 1.0). The function returns when either its length is up, or if no further
% progress can be made (ie, we are at a minimum, or so close that due to
% numerical problems, we cannot get any closer). If the function terminates
% within a few iterations, it could be an indication that the function value
% and derivatives are not consistent (ie, there may be a bug in the
% implementation of your "f" function). The function returns the found
% solution "X", a vector of function values "fX" indicating the progress made
% and "i" the number of iterations (line searches or function evaluations,
% depending on the sign of "length") used.
%
% Usage: [X, fX, i] = fmincg(f, X, options, P1, P2, P3, P4, P5)
%
%
% Copyright (C) 2001 and 2002 by Carl Edward Rasmussen. Date 2002-02-13
%
% (C) Copyright 1999, 2000 & 2001, Carl Edward Rasmussen
%
% Permission is granted for anyone to copy, use, or modify these
% programs and accompanying documents for purposes of research or
% education, provided this copyright notice is retained, and note is
%
% These programs and documents are distributed without any warranty,
% express or implied.  As the programs were written for research
% purposes only, they have not been tested to the degree that would be
% advisable in any important application.  All use of these programs is
% entirely at the user's own risk.
%
% 1) Function name and argument specifications
% 2) Output display
%
% Some lines have been altered, changing | to || and & to &&.
% This is to avoid "possible Matlab-style short-circuit operator" warnings
% being given when code is run under Octave. The lines where these changes
% have been made are indicated by comments at the end of each respective line.

if exist('options', 'var') && ~isempty(options) && isfield(options, 'MaxIter')
length = options.MaxIter;
else
length = 100;
end

RHO = 0.01;                            % a bunch of constants for line searches
SIG = 0.5;       % RHO and SIG are the constants in the Wolfe-Powell conditions
INT = 0.1;    % don't reevaluate within 0.1 of the limit of the current bracket
EXT = 3.0;                    % extrapolate maximum 3 times the current bracket
MAX = 20;                         % max 20 function evaluations per line search
RATIO = 100;                                      % maximum allowed slope ratio

argstr = ['feval(f, X'];                      % compose string used to call function
for i = 1:(nargin - 3)
argstr = [argstr, ',P', int2str(i)];
end
argstr = [argstr, ')'];

if max(size(length)) == 2, red=length(2); length=length(1); else red=1; end
S=['Iteration '];

i = 0;                                            % zero the run length counter
ls_failed = 0;                             % no previous line search has failed
fX = [];
[f1 df1] = eval(argstr);                      % get function value and gradient
i = i + (length<0);                                            % count epochs?!
s = -df1;                                        % search direction is steepest
d1 = -s'*s;                                                 % this is the slope
z1 = red/(1-d1);                                  % initial step is red/(|s|+1)

while i < abs(length)                                      % while not finished
i = i + (length>0);                                      % count iterations?!

X0 = X; f0 = f1; df0 = df1;                   % make a copy of current values
X = X + z1*s;                                             % begin line search
[f2 df2] = eval(argstr);
i = i + (length<0);                                          % count epochs?!
d2 = df2'*s;
f3 = f1; d3 = d1; z3 = -z1;             % initialize point 3 equal to point 1
if length>0, M = MAX; else M = min(MAX, -length-i); end
success = 0; limit = -1;                     % initialize quanteties
while 1
while ((f2 > f1+z1*RHO*d1) || (d2 > -SIG*d1)) && (M > 0) % | and & changed to || and && to avoid "possible Matlab-style short-circuit operator" warning
limit = z1;                                         % tighten the bracket
if f2 > f1
z2 = z3 - (0.5*d3*z3*z3)/(d3*z3+f2-f3);                 % quadratic fit
else
A = 6*(f2-f3)/z3+3*(d2+d3);                                 % cubic fit
B = 3*(f3-f2)-z3*(d3+2*d2);
z2 = (sqrt(B*B-A*d2*z3*z3)-B)/A;       % numerical error possible - ok!
end
if isnan(z2) || isinf(z2)     % | changed to || to avoid "possible Matlab-style short-circuit operator" warning
z2 = z3/2;                  % if we had a numerical problem then bisect
end
z2 = max(min(z2, INT*z3),(1-INT)*z3);  % don't accept too close to limits
z1 = z1 + z2;                                           % update the step
X = X + z2*s;
[f2 df2] = eval(argstr);
M = M - 1; i = i + (length<0);                           % count epochs?!
d2 = df2'*s;
z3 = z3-z2;                    % z3 is now relative to the location of z2
end
if f2 > f1+z1*RHO*d1 || d2 > -SIG*d1                    % | changed to || to avoid "possible Matlab-style short-circuit operator" warning
break;                                                % this is a failure
elseif d2 > SIG*d1
success = 1; break;                                             % success
elseif M == 0
break;                                                          % failure
end
A = 6*(f2-f3)/z3+3*(d2+d3);                      % make cubic extrapolation
B = 3*(f3-f2)-z3*(d3+2*d2);
z2 = -d2*z3*z3/(B+sqrt(B*B-A*d2*z3*z3));        % num. error possible - ok!
if ~isreal(z2) || isnan(z2) || isinf(z2) || z2 < 0   % num prob or wrong sign? % | changed to || to avoid "possible Matlab-style short-circuit operator" warning
if limit < -0.5                               % if we have no upper limit
z2 = z1 * (EXT-1);                 % the extrapolate the maximum amount
else
z2 = (limit-z1)/2;                                   % otherwise bisect
end
elseif (limit > -0.5) && (z2+z1 > limit)       % extraplation beyond max?   % & changed to && to avoid "possible Matlab-style short-circuit operator" warning
z2 = (limit-z1)/2;                                               % bisect
elseif (limit < -0.5) && (z2+z1 > z1*EXT)      % extrapolation beyond limit % & changed to && to avoid "possible Matlab-style short-circuit operator" warning
z2 = z1*(EXT-1.0);                           % set to extrapolation limit
elseif z2 < -z3*INT
z2 = -z3*INT;
elseif (limit > -0.5) && (z2 < (limit-z1)*(1.0-INT))   % too close to limit? % & changed to && to avoid "possible Matlab-style short-circuit operator" warning
z2 = (limit-z1)*(1.0-INT);
end
f3 = f2; d3 = d2; z3 = -z2;                  % set point 3 equal to point 2
z1 = z1 + z2; X = X + z2*s;                      % update current estimates
[f2 df2] = eval(argstr);
M = M - 1; i = i + (length<0);                             % count epochs?!
d2 = df2'*s;
end                                                      % end of line search

if success                                         % if line search succeeded
f1 = f2; fX = [fX' f1]';
fprintf('%s %4i | Cost: %4.6e\r', S, i, f1);
s = (df2'*df2-df1'*df2)/(df1'*df1)*s - df2;      % Polack-Ribiere direction
tmp = df1; df1 = df2; df2 = tmp;                         % swap derivatives
d2 = df1'*s;
if d2 > 0                                      % new slope must be negative
s = -df1;                              % otherwise use steepest direction
d2 = -s'*s;
end
z1 = z1 * min(RATIO, d1/(d2-realmin));          % slope ratio but max RATIO
d1 = d2;
ls_failed = 0;                              % this line search did not fail
else
X = X0; f1 = f0; df1 = df0;  % restore point from before failed line search
if ls_failed || i > abs(length)         % line search failed twice in a row % | changed to || to avoid "possible Matlab-style short-circuit operator" warning
break;                             % or we ran out of time, so we give up
end
tmp = df1; df1 = df2; df2 = tmp;                         % swap derivatives
s = -df1;                                                    % try steepest
d1 = -s'*s;
z1 = 1/(1-d1);
ls_failed = 1;                                    % this line search failed
end
if exist('OCTAVE_VERSION')
fflush(stdout);
end
end
fprintf('\n');
``````

Finally, the last set of videos talked about "Artificial Data Synthesis," otherwise known as creating your own data for training purposes. This is basically what I had planned to do anyway ( see previous post ), but it is nice to learn that it is standard, accepted practice in the ML world. The first such way of creating data, in the context of Photo OCR, is shown below
where various font libraries are used against random backgrounds. I think this very much mirrors my planned approach of training on repeated sets of my "ideal time series" construct. However, another approach which could be used is "data distortion," shown in this next image
which is an approach that my creating synthetic data using FFT might be useful for, or alternatively a correlation and cointegration approach as shown in R code in this Quantitative Finance thread.

All in all, I'm quite excited by the possibilities of my new found knowledge, and I fully expect that in time, after development and testing, any Neural Net I develop will in fact replace my current Naive Bayesian classifier.