Using Custom Building Blocks in TensorFlow 2.0

Custom Data Generator, Layer, Loss function and Learning Rate Scheduler

In this post, I will demonstrate how you can use custom building blocks for your deep learning model. Specifically, we will see how to use custom data generators, custom Keras layer, custom loss function, and a custom learning rate scheduler.

Custom Data Generator

Tensorflow provides tf.keras.preprocessing.image.ImageDataGenerator ( link) which is apt for most of the use cases but in some cases you might want to use a custom data generator. You can implement the keras.utils.Sequence interface to define a custom generator for your problem statement.

from tensorflow import keras

class My_Custom_Generator(keras.utils.Sequence):
  def __init__(self, images, labels, batch_size):
    self.images = images
    self.labels = labels
    self.batch_size = batch_size
  def __len__(self) :
    return (np.ceil(len(self.images) / float(self.batch_size))).astype(
  def __getitem__(self, idx) :
    batch_x = self.images[idx * self.batch_size : (idx+1) * self.batch_size]
    batch_y = self.labels[idx * self.batch_size : (idx+1) * self.batch_size]

    train_image = []
    train_label = []

    for i in range(0, len(batch_x)):
      img_path = batch_x[i]
      label = batch_y[i]
      # read method takes image path and label and returns corresponding matrices
      image, label_matrix = read(img_path, label)
    return np.array(train_image), np.array(train_label)

Note: The __getitem__ function returns a batch of images and labels.

Once, you define the generator, you can create its instances for training and validation sets.

batch_size = 4
my_training_batch_generator = My_Custom_Generator(X_train, Y_train, batch_size)
my_validation_batch_generator = My_Custom_Generator(X_val, Y_val, batch_size)

You can check the shape of the generator by manually calling the __getitem__ method.

x_train, y_train = my_training_batch_generator.__getitem__(0)

Finally, pass the generators in the method.,
    steps_per_epoch = int(len(X_train) // batch_size),
    epochs = 200,
    validation_data = my_validation_batch_generator,
    validation_steps = int(len(X_test) // batch_size))

Here’s the link to the docs if you want to explore it in detail.

Custom Keras Layer

There might be scenarios where the inbuilt layers provided by Tensorflow might not be sufficient for your needs. You can extend the tf.keras.layers.Layer to implement your own layer. In the code snippet below I define a layer to reshape the output. I used this layer while implementing YOLOV1 from scratch.

from tensorflow import keras
import keras.backend as K

class YoloReshape(tf.keras.layers.Layer):
  def __init__(self, target_shape):
    super(YoloReshape, self).__init__()
    self.target_shape = tuple(target_shape)

  def get_config(self):
    config = super().get_config().copy()
        'target_shape': self.target_shape
    return config

  def call(self, input):
    # grids 7x7
    S = [self.target_shape[0], self.target_shape[1]]
    # classes
    C = 20
    # no of bounding boxes per grid
    B = 2

    idx1 = S[0] * S[1] * C
    idx2 = idx1 + S[0] * S[1] * B
    # class probabilities
    class_probs = K.reshape(input[:, :idx1], (K.shape(input)[0],) + tuple([S[0], S[1], C]))
    class_probs = K.softmax(class_probs)

    confs = K.reshape(input[:, idx1:idx2], (K.shape(input)[0],) + tuple([S[0], S[1], B]))
    confs = K.sigmoid(confs)

    # boxes
    boxes = K.reshape(input[:, idx2:], (K.shape(input)[0],) + tuple([S[0], S[1], B * 4]))
    boxes = K.sigmoid(boxes)

    outputs = K.concatenate([class_probs, confs, boxes])
    return outputs


  • You need to define a call method that takes in the input from the previous layer and returns the output.
  • Also, you would need to define get_config and call config.update in it to save the inputs to this layer. If you skip this, TensorFlow won’t be able to save the weights for the network.

Once you define a layer, you can use it like any other layer in your model.

model = Sequential().
model.add(Dense(1470, activation='linear'))

Here’s the link to the docs if you want to explore it in more detail.

Custom Loss Function

Tensorflow comes with numerous predefined loss functions but there might be cases where you need to define your loss function. It is actually quite simple to define and use a custom loss function.

import tensorflow.keras.backend as k

def custom_loss(y_actual, y_pred):
    custom_loss = k.square(y_actual-y_pred)
    return custom_loss

Note: The loss function takes in the y_actual and the y_pred tensors.

Once you define a loss function, you can use it like any other loss function.

from tensorflow import keras

model.compile(loss=custom_loss ,optimizer='adam')

Here’s the link to the docs if you want to explore it in more detail.

Custom Learning Rate Scheduler

Some neural networks use variable learning rates for different epochs. If it doesn’t fit into one of the predefined learning rate schedulers, you can define your own. You need to extend the keras.callbacks.Callback class to define a custom scheduler.

from tensorflow import keras

class CustomLearningRateScheduler(keras.callbacks.Callback):
    def __init__(self, schedule):
        super(CustomLearningRateScheduler, self).__init__()
        self.schedule = schedule

    def on_epoch_begin(self, epoch, logs=None):
        if not hasattr(self.model.optimizer, "lr"):
            raise ValueError('Optimizer must have a "lr" attribute.')
        # Get the current learning rate from model's optimizer.
        lr = float(tf.keras.backend.get_value(self.model.optimizer.learning_rate))
        # Call schedule function to get the scheduled learning rate.
        scheduled_lr = self.schedule(epoch, lr)
        # Set the value back to the optimizer before this epoch starts
        tf.keras.backend.set_value(, scheduled_lr)
        print("\nEpoch %05d: Learning rate is %6.4f." % (epoch, scheduled_lr))

CustomLearningRateScheduler takes a schedule when initialized. On the start of every epoch on_epoch_begin is triggered and there we set the value for the learning rate based on the schedule.

Tensorflow callbacks have other methods like epoch end, batch begin, batch end, etc. and it can be used for many other purposes too.

Next, we need to define a schedule and a function that uses that schedule to retrieve the learning rate for a particular epoch.

    # (epoch to start, learning rate) tuples
    (0, 0.01),
    (75, 0.001),
    (105, 0.0001),

def lr_schedule(epoch, lr):
    """Helper function to retrieve the scheduled learning rate based on epoch."""
    if epoch < LR_SCHEDULE[0][0] or epoch > LR_SCHEDULE[-1][0]:
        return lr
    for i in range(len(LR_SCHEDULE)):
        if epoch == LR_SCHEDULE[i][0]:
            return LR_SCHEDULE[i][1]
    return lr

Finally, we can use the scheduler in the function. other params

That’s it for this post. I used all these custom building blocks while trying to implement YOLOV1 from scratch. You can take a look at this post to see the full implementation:

Implementing YOLOV1 from scratch using Keras Tensorflow | Vivek Maskara

Written on June 22, 2020 by Vivek Maskara.

Originally published on Medium

Vivek Maskara
Vivek Maskara
SDE @ Remitly

SDE @ Remitly | Graduated from MS CS @ ASU | Ex-Morgan, Amazon, Zeta