OML4Py – AutoML – Step-by-Step Approach

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Automated Machine Learning (AutoML) is or was a bit of a hot topic over the past couple of years. With various analysis companies like Gartner and others pushing for the need for AutoML, lots and lots of vendors have been creating different types of offerings to support this.

I’ve written some blog posts about AutoML already, from describing what it is and the different types, to showing how to do a black box approach using Oracle OML4Py, and also for using Oracle Machine Learning (OML) AutoML UI. Go check out those posts. In this post I will look at the more detailed step-by-step approach to AutoML using OML4Py. The same data set and cloud account/setup will be used. This will make it easier for you to compare the steps, the results and the AutoML experience across the different OML offerings.

Check out my previous post where I give details of the data set and some data preparation. I won’t repeat those here, but will move onto performing the step-by-step AutoML using OML4Py. The following diagram, from Oracle, outlines the steps involved

A little reminder/warning before you use AutoML in OML4Py. It only works for Classification (binary and multi-class) and Regression problems. The following code example illustrates a binary class problem, but in general there is no difference between the each type of Classification and Regression, except for the evaluation metrics, which I will list below.

Step 1 – Prepare the Data Set & Setup

See my previous blog post where I prepare the data set. I’m not going to repeat those steps here to save a little bit of space.

Also have a look at what libraries to load/import.

Step 2 – Automatic Algorithm Selection

The first step to configure and complete is select the “best model” from a selection of available Algorithms. Not all of the in-database algorithms are available to use in AutoML, which is a pity as there are some algorithms that can produce really accurate model. Hopefully with time these will be added.

The function to use is called AlgorithmSelection. This consists of two parts. The first is to define the parameters and the second part is to run it. This function accepts three parameters:

  • mining function : ‘classification’ or ‘regression. Classification can be for binary and multi-class.
  • score metric : the evaluation metric to evaluate the model performance. The following list gives the evaluation metric for each mining function

binary classification – accuracy (default), f1, precision, recall, roc_auc, f1_micro, f1_macro, f1_weighted, recall_micro, recall_macro, recall_weighted, precision_micro, precision_macro, precision_weighted

multiclass classification – accuracy (default), f1_micro, f1_macro, f1_weighted, recall_micro, recall_macro, recall_weighted, precision_micro, precision_macro, precision_weighted

regression – r2 (default), neg_mean_squared_error, neg_mean_absolute_error, neg_mean_squared_log_error, neg_median_absolute_error

  • parallel : degree of parallelism to use. Default it system determined.

The second step uses this configuration and runs the code to find the “best models”. This takes the training data set (in typical Python format), and can also have a number of additional parameters. See my previous blog post for a full list of these, but ignore adaptive sampling. To keep life simple, you only really need to use ‘k’ and ‘cv’. ‘k’ specifies the number of models to include in the return list, default is 3. ‘cv’ tells how many levels of cross validation to perform. To keep things consistent across these blog posts and make comparison easier, I’m going to set ‘cv=5’

as_bank = automl.AlgorithmSelection(mining_function='classification',
                                    score_metric='accuracy', parallel=4)
oml_bank_ms =, oml_bank_y, cv=5)

To display the results and select out the best algorithm:

print("Ranked algorithms with Evaluation score:\n", oml_bank_ms)
selected_oml_bank_ms = next(iter(dict(oml_bank_ms).keys()))
print("Best algorithm =", selected_oml_bank_ms)

Ranked algorithms with Evaluation score:
 [('glm', 0.8668130990415336), ('glm_ridge', 0.8668130990415336), ('nb', 0.8634185303514377)]
Best algorithm = glm

This last bit of code is import, where the “best” algorithm is extracted from the list. This will be used in the next step.

“It Depends” is a phrase we hear/use a lot in IT, and the same applies to using AutoML. The model returned above does not mean it is the “best model”. It Depends on the parameters used, primarily the Evaluation Metric, but also the number set for CV (cross validation). Here are some examples of changing these and their results. As you can see we get a slightly different set of results or “best model” for each. My advice is to set ‘k’ large (eg current maximum values is 8), as this will ensure all algorithms are evaluated and not just a subset of them (potential hard coded ordered list of algorithms)

oml_bank_ms5 =, oml_bank_y, k=5)

[('glm', 0.8668130990415336), ('glm_ridge', 0.8668130990415336), ('nb', 0.8634185303514377), ('rf', 0.862020766773163), ('svm_linear', 0.8552316293929713)]
oml_bank_ms10 =, oml_bank_y, k=10)

[('glm', 0.8668130990415336), ('glm_ridge', 0.8668130990415336), ('nb', 0.8634185303514377), ('rf', 0.862020766773163), ('svm_linear', 0.8552316293929713), ('nn', 0.8496405750798722), ('svm_gaussian', 0.8454472843450479), ('dt', 0.8386581469648562)]

Here are some examples when the Score Metric is changed, and the impact it can have.

as_bank2 = automl.AlgorithmSelection(mining_function='classification',
                                     score_metric='f1', parallel=4)

oml_bank_ms2 =, oml_bank_y, k=10)

[('rf', 0.6163242642976126), ('glm', 0.6160046056419113), ('glm_ridge', 0.6160046056419113), ('svm_linear', 0.5996686913307566), ('nn', 0.5896457765667574), ('svm_gaussian', 0.5829741379310345), ('dt', 0.5747368421052631), ('nb', 0.5269709543568464)]
as_bank3 = automl.AlgorithmSelection(mining_function='classification',
                                     score_metric='f1', parallel=4)

oml_bank_ms3 =, oml_bank_y, k=10, cv=2)

[('glm', 0.60365647055431), ('glm_ridge', 0.6034077555816686), ('rf', 0.5990036646816308), ('svm_linear', 0.588201766334537), ('svm_gaussian', 0.5845019676714007), ('nn', 0.5842357537014313), ('dt', 0.5686862482989511), ('nb', 0.4981168003466766)]
as_bank4 = automl.AlgorithmSelection(mining_function='classification',
                                     score_metric='f1', parallel=4)

oml_bank_ms4 =, oml_bank_y, k=10, cv=5)

[('glm', 0.583504644833276), ('glm_ridge', 0.58343736244422), ('rf', 0.5815952044164737), ('svm_linear', 0.5668069231027809), ('nn', 0.5628153929281711), ('svm_gaussian', 0.5613976370223811), ('dt', 0.5602129668741175), ('nb', 0.49153999668083814)]

The problem we now have with AutoML, it is telling us different answers for “best model”. To most that might be confusing but for the more technical data scientist they will know why. In very very simple terms, you are doing different things with the data and because of this you can get a different answer.

It is because of these different possible answers answers for the “best model”, is the reason AutoML can really only be used as a guide (a pointer towards what might be the “best model”), and cannot be relied upon to give a “best model”. AutoML is still not suitable for the general data analyst despite what some companies are saying.

Lots more could be discussed here but let’s more onto the next step.

Step 3 – Automatic Feature Selection

In the previous steps we have identified a possible “best model”. Let’s pretend the “best model” is the “best model”. The next steps is to look at how this model can be refined and improved using a subset of the features/attributes/columns. FeatureSelection looks are examining the data when combined with the model to find the optimised set of features/attributes/columns, to improve the model performance i.e. make it more accurate or have a better outcome based on the evaluation or score metric. For simplicity I’m going to use the result from the first example produced in the previous step. In a similar way to Step 2, there are two parts to setup and run the Feature Selection (Reduction). Each part is setup in a similar way to Step 2, with the parameters for FeatureSelection being the same values as those used for AlgorithmSelection. For the ‘reduce’ function, pass in the name of the “best model” or “best algorithm” from Step 2. This was extracted to a variable called ‘selected_oml_bank_ms’. Most of the other parameters the ‘reduce’ function takes are similar to the ‘select’ function. Again keeping things consistent, pass in the training data set and set the number of cross validations to 5.

fs_oml_bank = automl.FeatureSelection(mining_function = 'classification',
                                      score_metric = 'accuracy', parallel=4)

oml_bank_fsR = fs_oml_bank.reduce(selected_oml_bank_ms, oml_bank_X, oml_bank_y, cv=5)

We can now look at the results from this listing the reduced set of features/columns and comparing the number of features/columns in the original data set to the reduced set.

oml_bank_fsR_l = oml_bank_X[:,oml_bank_fsR]

print("Selected columns:", oml_bank_fsR_l.columns)
print("Number of columns:")
"{} reduced to {}".format(len(oml_bank_X.columns), len(oml_bank_fsR_l.columns))

Number of columns:
'20 reduced to 7'

In this example the data set gets reduced from having 20 features/columns in the original data set, down to having 7 features/columns.

Step 4 – Automatic Model Tuning

Up to now, we have identified the “best model” / “best algorithm” and the optimised reduced set of features to use. The final step is to take the details generated from the previous steps and use this to generate a Tuned Model. In a similar way to the previous steps, this involve two parts. The first sets up some parameters and the second runs the Model Tuning function called ‘tune’. Make sure to include the data frame containing the reduced set of features/attributes.

mt_oml_bank = automl.ModelTuning(mining_function='classification', score_metric='accuracy', parallel=4)

oml_bank_mt = mt_oml_bank.tune(selected_oml_bank_ms, oml_bank_fsR_l, oml_bank_y, cv=5)


The output is very long and contains the name of the Algorithm, the hyperparameters used for the final model, the features used, and (at the end) lists the various combinations of hyperparameters used and the evaluation metric score for each combination. Partial output shown below.

mt_oml_bank = automl.ModelTuning(mining_function='classification', score_metric='accuracy', parallel=4)

oml_bank_mt = mt_oml_bank.tune(selected_oml_bank_ms, oml_bank_fsR_l, oml_bank_y, cv=5)

Algorithm Name: Generalized Linear Model


Target: TARGET_Y

setting name setting value

The list of parameter settings and the evaluation score is an ordered list in decending order, starting with the best model.

We can extract the different parts of this dictionary object by using the following:

#display the main model details 

Now extract the evaluation metric score and the parameter settings used for the best model, (position 0 of the dictionary)

score, params = oml_bank_mt['all_evals'][0]

And that’s it, job done with using OML4Py AutoML to generate an optimised model.

The example above is for a Classification problem. If you had a Regression problem all you need to do is replace ‘classification’ with ‘regression’, and change the score_metric parameter to ‘r2’, or one of the other Regression metric values (see above for list of these.