HiveMall: Transform Categorical features to Numerical

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HiveMall is a machine learning library that sits on top of Hive and provides SQL interface to wide range of data preparation and machine learning algorithms.

A common task faced for many machine learning exercises is to convert the data from the format it is captured in (raw data) into a format that is required by the machine learning algorithms. Most ML tools will either have functionality built into the algorithms to do this automatically or will provide functions to allow you to manage this process yourself.

In HiveMall we have the ‘quantified_features’ function and is used for transforming values of non-number columns to indexed numbers, but it does have some unusual but useful features.

In this example I’ll use the titanic data set to illustrate the usage of this feature.

Screenshot 2019-04-29 15.14.42

Here we have a mixture of features with categorical and numerical.

    ${output_row}, PassengerId, Survived, Pclass, Sex, Age, SibSp, Parch, Fare, Cabin, Embarked) as features
from (
  select * from titanic
  order by Passengerid asc
) t
limit 5;

and we get the following output


The ordering within the attributes is important, and some thinking is needed if there is a defined order and you want this reflected in the outputs of the transformed features

If you are a numeric field that you want treated as a categorical, and transformed, you can cast it into a string


cast(SibSp as string)

Python transforming Categorical to Numeric

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When preparing data for input to machine learning algorithms you may have to perform certain types of data preparation.

In most enterprise solutions all or most of these tasks are automated for you, but in many languages they aren’t. The enterprise solutions are about ‘automating the boring stuff’ so that you don’t have to worry about it and waste valuable time doing boring, repetitive things.

The following examples illustrates a number of ways to record categorical variables into numeric. There are a number of approaches available, and it is up to you to decide which one might work best for your problem, your data, etc.

Let’s begin by loading the data set to be used in these examples. It is a Video Games reviews data set.

# perform some Statistics on the items in a panda
import pandas as pd
import numpy as np
import matplotlib as plt
videoReview = pd.read_csv('/Users/brendan.tierney/Downloads/Video_Games_Sales_as_at_22_Dec_2016.csv') 

What are the data types of each variable


We don’t want to work with all the data in these examples. We just want to concentrate on the categorical variables. Let’s us create a subset of the dataframe to contains these.

df = videoReview.select_dtypes(include=['object']).copy()

Now do a little data clean up by removing NaN (nulls)



The above image shows the number of unique values in each of the variables. We will use Platform, Genre and Rating for the variable example below.

Let us chart these variables.

#check the number of passengars for each variable 
import seaborn as sb
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

plt.rcParams['figure.figsize'] = 10, 8

sb.countplot(x='Platform',data=df, palette='hls')

sb.countplot(x='Genre',data=df, palette='hls')

sb.countplot(x='Rating',data=df, palette='hls')

1-One-hot Coding

The first approach is to use the commonly used one-hot coding method. This will take a categorical variable and create a set of new variables corresponding with each distinct value in the variable, and then populate it with a binary value to indicate the original value.

#apply one-hot-coding to all the categorical variables
# and create a new dataframe to store the results

df2 = pd.get_dummies(df)

As you can see we now have 8138 variables in the pandas dataframe!

That is a lot and may not be workable for you. You may need to look at some feature reduction methods to reduce the number of variables.

2-Find and Replace

In this example we will simple replace the values with defined values.

Let’s have a look at values in the Ratings variable and their frequencies.


The last 4 values listed have very small number of occurrences.

We will group these into having one value/category

find_replace = {"Rating" : {"E": 1, "T": 2, "M": 3, "E10+": 4, "EC": 5, "K-A": 5, "RP": 5, "AO": 5}}
df.replace(find_replace, inplace=True)

Now plot the newly generated rating values and their frequencies.

sb.countplot(x='Rating',data=df, palette='hls')

3 – Label encoding

With this technique where each distinct value in a categorical variable is converted to a number.
In this scenario you don’t get to pick the numeric value assigned to the value. It is system determined.

#let's check the data types again

Our categorical variables are of ‘object’ data type. We need to convert to a category data type.

In this example ‘Platform’ as it has a large-ish number of values and we want a quick way of converting them we can illustrate this by creating a new variable.

df["Platform_Category"] = df["Platform"].astype('category')

Now convert this new variable to numeric.

df["Platform_Category"] = df["Platform_Category"].cat.codes

The number assigned to the Platform_Category variable is based on the alphabetical ordering of the values in the Platform variable. For example,


4-Using SciKit-Learn transform

SciKit-Learn has a number of functions to help with data encodings. The first one we will look at is the ‘fit_transform’ function.

This will perform a similar task to what we have seen in a previous example

#Let's use the fit_tranforms function to encode the Genre variable
from sklearn.preprocessing import LabelEncoder

le_make = LabelEncoder()
df["Genre_Code"] = le_make.fit_transform(df["Genre"])
df[["Genre", "Genre_Code"]].head(10)

And we can see this comparison when we look at the frequency counts.



And now we can drop the Genre variable from the dataframe as it is no longer needed. BUT you will need to have recorded the mapping between the original Genre values and the numeric values for future reference.

df = df.drop('Genre', axis=1)

5-Using SciKit-Learn LabelEndcoder

SciKit-Learn has a binary label encoder and it can be used in a similar way to the previous example and also similar to the ‘get_dummies’ function.

from sklearn.preprocessing import LabelBinarizer

lb_style = LabelBinarizer()
lb_results = lb_style.fit_transform(df["Rating"])
lb_df = pd.DataFrame(lb_results, columns=lb_style.classes_)

These can now be joined with the original dataframe or a with a subset of the original dataframe to form a new dataframe consisting of the required variables.

As you can see, from the following, there are several other data pre-processing functions available in SciKit-Learn.

Data Normalization in Oracle Data Mining

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Normalization is the process of scaling continuous values down to a specific range, often between zero and one. Normalization transforms each numerical value by subtracting a number, called the shift, and dividing the result by another number called the scale. The normalization techniques include:

  • Min-Max Normalization : There is where the normalization is based on the using the minimum value for the shift and the (maximum-minimum) for the scale.
  • Scale Normalization : This is where the normalization is based on zero being used for the shift and the value calculated using max[abs(max), abs(min)] being used for the scale
  • Z-Score Normalization : This is where the normalization is based on using the mean value for the shift and the standard deviation for the scale.

When using Automatic Data Processing the normalization functions are used. But sometimes you may want to process the data is a more explicit manner. To do so you can use the various normalization function. To use these there is a three stage process. The first stage involves the creation of a table that will contain the normalization transformation data. The second stage applies the normalization procedures to your data source, defines the normalization required and inserts the required transformation data  into the table create during the first stage. The third stage involves the defining of a view that applies the normalization transformations to your data source and displays the output via a database view. The following example illustrates how you can normalize the AGE and YRS_RESIDENCE attributes. The input data source will be the view that was created as the output of the previous transformation (MINING_DATA_V_2). This is passed on the original MINING_DATA_BUILD_V data set. The final output from this transformation step and all the other data transformation steps is MINING_DATA_READY_V.

   -- Clean-up : Drop the previously created tables
      execute immediate 'drop table TRANSFORM_NORMALIZE';
      WHEN others THEN

   -- Stage 1 : Create the table for the transformations
   -- Perform normalization for: AGE and YRS_RESIDENCE
   dbms_data_mining_transform.CREATE_NORM_LIN (
      norm_table_name => 'MINING_DATA_NORMALIZE');       

   -- Step 2 : Insert the normalization data into the table
   dbms_data_mining_transform.INSERT_NORM_LIN_MINMAX (
      norm_table_name => 'MINING_DATA_NORMALIZE',
      data_table_name => 'MINING_DATA_V_2',

   -- Stage 3 : Create the view with the transformed data
      norm_table_name => 'MINING_DATA_NORMALIZE',
      data_table_name => 'MINING_DATA_V_2',
      xform_view_name => 'MINING_DATA_READY_V');


The above example performs normalization based on the Minimum-Maximum values of the variables/columns. The other normalization functions are:

INSERT_NORM_LIN_SCALE Inserts linear scale normalization definitions in a transformation definition table.
INSERT_NORM_LIN_ZSCORE Inserts linear zscore normalization definitions in a transformation definition table.


Hivemall: Feature Scaling based on Min-Max values

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Once of the most common tasks when preparing data for data mining and machine learning is to take numerical data and scale it. Most enterprise and advanced tools and languages do this automatically for you, but with lower level languages you need to perform the task. There are a number of approaches to doing this. In this example we will use the Min-Max approach.

With the Min-Max feature scaling approach, we need to find the Minimum and Maximum values of each numerical feature. Then using a scaling function that will re-scale the data to a Zero to One range. The general formula for this is.

Screenshot 2019-03-18 09.58.49

Using the IRIS data set as the data set (and loaded in previous post), the first thing we need to find is the minimum and maximum values for each feature.

select min(features[0]), max(features[0]),
       min(features[1]), max(features[1]),
       min(features[2]), max(features[2]),
       min(features[3]), max(features[3])
from iris_raw;

we get the following results.

4.3  7.9  2.0  4.4  1.0  6.9  0.1  2.5

The format of the results can be a little confusing. What this list gives us is the results for each of the four features.

For feature[0], sepal_length, we have a minimum value of 4.3 and a maximum value of 7.9.


feature[1], sepal_width,  min=2.0, max=4.4

feature[2], petal_length,  min=1.0, max=6.9

feature[3], petal_width,  min=0.1, max=2.5

To use these minimum and maximum values, we need to declare some local session variables to store these.

set hivevar:feature0_min=4.3;
set hivevar:feature0_max=7.9;
set hivevar:feature1_min=2.0;
set hivevar:feature1_max=4.4;
set hivevar:feature2_min=1.0;
set hivevar:feature2_max=6.9;
set hivevar:feature3_min=0.1;
set hivevar:feature3_max=2.5;

After setting those variables we can now write a SQL SELECT and use the add_bias function to perform the calculations.

select rowid, label,
          concat("1:", rescale(features[0],${f0_min},${f0_max})), 
          concat("2:", rescale(features[1],${f1_min},${f1_max})), 
          concat("3:", rescale(features[2],${f2_min},${f2_max})), 
          concat("4:", rescale(features[3],${f3_min},${f3_max})))) as features
from iris_raw;

and we get

> 1 Iris-setosa   ["1:0.22222215","2:0.625","3:0.0677966","4:0.041666664","0:1.0"]
> 2 Iris-setosa   ["1:0.16666664","2:0.41666666","3:0.0677966","4:0.041666664","0:1.0"]
> 3 Iris-setosa   ["1:0.11111101","2:0.5","3:0.05084745","4:0.041666664","0:1.0"]

Other feature scaling methods, available in Hivemall, include L1/L2 Normalization and zscore.

OCI – Making DBaaS Accessible using port 1521

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When setting up a Database on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) for the first time there are a few pre and post steps to complete before you can access the database using a JDBC type of connect, just like what you have in SQL Developer, or using Python or other similar tools and/or languages.

1. Setup Virtual Cloud Network (VCN)

The first step, when starting off with OCI, is to create a Virtual Cloud Network.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.08.48

Create a VCN and take all the defaults. But change the radio button shown in the following image.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.13.07

That’s it. We will come back to this later.

2. Create the Oracle Database

To create the database select ‘Bare Metal, VM and Exadata’ from the menu.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.14.08

Click on the ‘Launch DB System’ button.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.15.28

Fill in the details of the Database you want to create and select from the various options from the drop-downs.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.16.56

Fill in the details of the VCN you created in the previous set, and give the name of the DB and the Admin password.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.19.00

When you are finished everything that is needed, the ‘Launch DB System’ at the bottom of the page will be enabled. After clicking on this botton, the VM will be built and should be ready in a few minutes. When finished you should see something like this.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.22.51

3. SSH to the Database server

When the DB VM has been created you can now SSH to it. You will need to use the SSH key file used when creating the DB VM. You will need to connect to the opc (operating system user), and from there sudo to the oracle user. For example

ssh -i <ssh file> opc@<public IP address>

The public IP address can be found with the Database VM details

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.26.35

[opc@tudublins1 ~]$ sudo su - oracle
[oracle@tudublins1 ~]$ . oraenv
ORACLE_SID = [cdb1] ? 
The Oracle base has been set to /u01/app/oracle
[oracle@tudublins1 ~]$ 
[oracle@tudublins1 ~]$ sqlplus / as sysdba

SQL*Plus: Release - Production on Wed Mar 13 11:28:05 2019

Copyright (c) 1982, 2018, Oracle. All rights reserved.

Connected to:
Oracle Database 18c Enterprise Edition Release - Production

SQL> alter session set container = pdb1;

Session altered.

SQL> create user demo_user identified by DEMO_user123##;

User created.

SQL> grant create session to demo_user;

Grant succeeded.


4. Open port 1521

To be able to access this with a Basic connection in SQL Developer and most programming languages, we will need to open port 1521 to allow these tools and languages to connect to the database.

To do this go back to the Virtual Cloud Networks section from the menu.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.08.48

Click into your VCN, that you created earlier. You should see something like the following.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.34.53

Click on the Security Lists, menu option on the left hand side.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.39.10From that screen, click on Default Security List, and then click on the ‘Edit All Rules’ button at the top of the next screen.

Add a new rule to have a ‘Destination Port Range’ set for 1521

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.41.19

That’s it.

5. Connect to the Database from anywhere

Now you can connect to the OCI Database using a basic SQL Developer Connection.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 11.46.06

HiveMall: Docker image setup

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In a previous blog post I introduced HiveMall as a SQL based machine learning language available for Hadoop and integrated with Hive.

If you have your own Hadoop/Big Data environment, I provided the installation instructions for Hivemall, in that blog post

An alternative is to use Docker. There is a HiveMall Docker image available. A little warning before using this image. It isn’t updated with the latest release but seems to get updated twice a year. Although you may not be running the latest version of HiveMall, you will have a working environment that will have almost all the functionality, bar a few minor new features and bug fixes.

To get started, you need to make sure you have Docker running on your machine and you have logged into your account. The docker image is available from Docker Hub. Take note of the version number for the latest version of the docker image. In this example it is 20180924

Screenshot 2019-03-04 10.53.57

Open a terminal window and run the following command. This will download and extract all the image files.

docker pull hivemall/latest:20180924

Screenshot 2019-03-04 10.51.34

Until everything is completed.

Screenshot 2019-03-04 11.01.40

This docker image has HDFS, Yarn and MapReduce installed and running. This will require the exposing of the ports for these services 8088, 50070 and 19888.

To start the HiveMall docker image run

docker run -p 8088:8088 -p 50070:50070 -p 19888:19888 -it hivemall/latest:20180924

Consider creating a shell script for this, to make it easier each time you want to run the image.

Screenshot 2019-03-04 11.15.04

Now seed Hive with some data. The typical example uses the IRIS data set.  Run the following command to do this. This script downloads the IRIS data set, creates a number directories and then creates an external table, in Hive, to point to the IRIS data set.

cd $HOME && ./bin/prepare_iris.sh

Screenshot 2019-03-04 11.20.49

Now open Hive and list the databases.

hive -S
hive> show databases;
Time taken: 0.131 seconds, Fetched: 2 row(s)

Connect to the IRIS database and list the tables within it.

hive> use iris;
hive> show tables;

Now query the data (150 records)

hive> select * from iris_raw;
1 Iris-setosa [5.1,3.5,1.4,0.2]
2 Iris-setosa [4.9,3.0,1.4,0.2]
3 Iris-setosa [4.7,3.2,1.3,0.2]
4 Iris-setosa [4.6,3.1,1.5,0.2]
5 Iris-setosa [5.0,3.6,1.4,0.2]
6 Iris-setosa [5.4,3.9,1.7,0.4]
7 Iris-setosa [4.6,3.4,1.4,0.3]
8 Iris-setosa [5.0,3.4,1.5,0.2]
9 Iris-setosa [4.4,2.9,1.4,0.2]
10 Iris-setosa [4.9,3.1,1.5,0.1]
11 Iris-setosa [5.4,3.7,1.5,0.2]
12 Iris-setosa [4.8,3.4,1.6,0.2]
13 Iris-setosa [4.8,3.0,1.4,0.1

Find the min and max values for each feature.

hive> select 
    > min(features[0]), max(features[0]),
    > min(features[1]), max(features[1]),
    > min(features[2]), max(features[2]),
    > min(features[3]), max(features[3])
    > from
    > iris_raw;

4.3  7.9  2.0  4.4  1.0  6.9  0.1  2.5

You are now up and running with HiveMall on Docker.

Ethics in the AI, Machine Learning, Data Science, etc Era

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Ethics is one of those topics that everyone has a slightly different definition or view of what it means. The Oxford English dictionary defines ethics as, ‘Moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity‘.

As you can imagine this topic can be difficult to discuss and has many, many different aspects.

In the era of AI, Machine Learning, Data Science, etc the topic of Ethics is finally becoming an important topic. Again there are many perspective on this. I’m not going to get into these in this blog post, because if I did I could end up writing a PhD dissertation on it. 

But if you do work in the area of AI, Machine Learning, Data Science, etc you do need to think about the ethical aspects of what you do. For most people, you will be working on topics where ethics doesn’t really apply. For example, examining log data, looking for trends, etc

But when you start working of projects examining individuals and their behaviours then you do need to examine the ethical aspects of such work. Everyday we experience adverts, web sites, marketing, etc that has used AI, Machine Learning and Data Science to delivery certain product offerings to us.

Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should do it.

One particular area that I will not work on is Location Based Advertising. Imagine walking down a typical high street with lots and lots of retail stores. Your phone vibrates and on the screen there is a message. The message is a special offer or promotion for one of the shops a short distance ahead of you. You are being analysed. Your previous buying patterns and behaviours are being analysed, Your location and direction of travel is being analysed. Some one, or many AI applications are watching you. This is not anything new and there are lots of examples of this from around the world.

But what if this kind of Location Based Advertising was taken to another level. What if the shops had cameras that monitored the people walking up and down the street. What if those cameras were analysing you, analysing what clothes you are wearing, analysing the brands you are wearing, analysing what accessories you have, analysing your body language, etc. They are trying to analyse if you are the kind of person they want to sell to. They then have staff who will come up to you, as you are walking down the street, and will have customised personalised special offers on products in their store, just for you.

See the segment between 2:00 and 4:00 in this video.  This gives you an idea of what is possible.

Are you Ok with this?

As an AI, Machine Learning, Data Science professional, are you Ok with this?

The technology exists to make this kind of Location Based Marketing possible. This will be an increasing ethical consideration over the coming years for those who work in the area of AI, Machine Learning, Data Science, etc

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should!