Kaggle house price prediction with Gluon and k-fold cross-validation

Updates: `Share your score and method here <https://discuss.mxnet.io/t/kaggle-exercise-1-house-price-prediction-with-gluon/51>`__.

How have you been doing so far on the journey of Deep Learning---the Straight Dope?

It’s time to get your hands dirty.

Let’s get started.


In this tutorial, we introduce how to use Gluon for competition on Kaggle. Specifically, we will take the house price prediction problem as a case study.

We will provide a basic end-to-end pipeline for completing a common Kaggle challenge. We will demonstrate how to use pandas to pre-process the real-world data sets, such as:

  • Handling categorical data
  • Handling missing values
  • Standardizing numerical features

Note that this tutorial only provides a very basic pipeline. We expect you to tweak the following code, such as re-designing models and fine-tuning parameters, to obtain a desirable score on Kaggle.

House Price Prediction Problem on Kaggle

Kaggle is a popular platform for people who love machine learning. To submit the results, please register a Kaggle account. Please note that, Kaggle limits the number of daily submissions to 10.

We take the house price prediction problem as an example to demonstrate how to complete a Kaggle competition with Gluon. Please learn details of the problem by clicking the link to the house price prediction problem before starting.

Load the data set

There are separate training and testing data sets for this competition. Both data sets describe features of every house, such as type of the street, year of building, and basement conditions. Such features can be numeric, categorical, or even missing (na). Only the training dat set has the sale price of each house, which shall be predicted based on features of the testing data set.

The data sets can be downloaded via the link to problem. Specifically, you can directly access the training data set and the testing data set after logging in Kaggle.

We load the data via pandas. Please make sure that it is installed (pip install pandas).

In [1]:
import pandas as pd
import numpy as np

train = pd.read_csv("../data/kaggle/house_pred_train.csv")
test = pd.read_csv("../data/kaggle/house_pred_test.csv")
all_X = pd.concat((train.loc[:, 'MSSubClass':'SaleCondition'],
                      test.loc[:, 'MSSubClass':'SaleCondition']))

We can take a look at a few rows of the training data set.

In [2]:
Id MSSubClass MSZoning LotFrontage LotArea Street Alley LotShape LandContour Utilities ... PoolArea PoolQC Fence MiscFeature MiscVal MoSold YrSold SaleType SaleCondition SalePrice
0 1 60 RL 65.0 8450 Pave NaN Reg Lvl AllPub ... 0 NaN NaN NaN 0 2 2008 WD Normal 208500
1 2 20 RL 80.0 9600 Pave NaN Reg Lvl AllPub ... 0 NaN NaN NaN 0 5 2007 WD Normal 181500
2 3 60 RL 68.0 11250 Pave NaN IR1 Lvl AllPub ... 0 NaN NaN NaN 0 9 2008 WD Normal 223500
3 4 70 RL 60.0 9550 Pave NaN IR1 Lvl AllPub ... 0 NaN NaN NaN 0 2 2006 WD Abnorml 140000
4 5 60 RL 84.0 14260 Pave NaN IR1 Lvl AllPub ... 0 NaN NaN NaN 0 12 2008 WD Normal 250000

5 rows × 81 columns

Here is the shapes of the data sets.

In [3]:
(1460, 81)
In [4]:
(1459, 80)

Pre-processing data

We can use pandas to standardize the numerical features:

\[x_i = \frac{x_i - \mathbb{E} x_i}{\text{std}(x_i)}\]
In [5]:
numeric_feas = all_X.dtypes[all_X.dtypes != "object"].index
all_X[numeric_feas] = all_X[numeric_feas].apply(
    lambda x: (x - x.mean()) / (x.std()))

Let us transform categorical values to numerical ones.

In [6]:
all_X = pd.get_dummies(all_X, dummy_na=True)

We can approximate the missing values by the mean values of the current feature.

In [7]:
all_X = all_X.fillna(all_X.mean())

Let us convert the formats of the data sets.

In [8]:
num_train = train.shape[0]

X_train = all_X[:num_train].as_matrix()
X_test = all_X[num_train:].as_matrix()
y_train = train.SalePrice.as_matrix()

Loading data in NDArray

To facilitate the interations with Gluon, we need to load data in the NDArray format.

In [9]:
from mxnet import ndarray as nd
from mxnet import autograd
from mxnet import gluon

X_train = nd.array(X_train)
y_train = nd.array(y_train)
y_train.reshape((num_train, 1))

X_test = nd.array(X_test)

We define the loss function to be the squared loss.

In [10]:
square_loss = gluon.loss.L2Loss()

Below defines the root mean square loss between the logarithm of the predicted values and the true values used in the competition.

In [11]:
def get_rmse_log(net, X_train, y_train):
    num_train = X_train.shape[0]
    clipped_preds = nd.clip(net(X_train), 1, float('inf'))
    return np.sqrt(2 * nd.sum(square_loss(
        nd.log(clipped_preds), nd.log(y_train))).asscalar() / num_train)

Define the model

We define a basic linear regression model here. This may be modified to achieve better results on Kaggle.

In [12]:
def get_net():
    net = gluon.nn.Sequential()
    with net.name_scope():
    return net

We define the training function.

In [13]:
%matplotlib inline
import matplotlib as mpl
mpl.rcParams['figure.dpi']= 120
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

def train(net, X_train, y_train, X_test, y_test, epochs,
          verbose_epoch, learning_rate, weight_decay):
    train_loss = []
    if X_test is not None:
        test_loss = []
    batch_size = 100
    dataset_train = gluon.data.ArrayDataset(X_train, y_train)
    data_iter_train = gluon.data.DataLoader(
        dataset_train, batch_size,shuffle=True)
    trainer = gluon.Trainer(net.collect_params(), 'adam',
                            {'learning_rate': learning_rate,
                             'wd': weight_decay})
    for epoch in range(epochs):
        for data, label in data_iter_train:
            with autograd.record():
                output = net(data)
                loss = square_loss(output, label)

            cur_train_loss = get_rmse_log(net, X_train, y_train)
        if epoch > verbose_epoch:
            print("Epoch %d, train loss: %f" % (epoch, cur_train_loss))
        if X_test is not None:
            cur_test_loss = get_rmse_log(net, X_test, y_test)
    if X_test is not None:
    if X_test is not None:
        return cur_train_loss, cur_test_loss
        return cur_train_loss

K-Fold Cross-Validation

We described the overfitting problem, where we cannot rely on the training loss to infer the testing loss. In fact, when we fine-tune the parameters, we typically rely on \(k\)-fold cross-validation.

In \(k\)-fold cross-validation, we divide the training data sets into \(k\) subsets, where one set is used for the validation and the remaining \(k-1\) subsets are used for training.

We care about the average training loss and average testing loss of the \(k\) experimental results. Hence, we can define the \(k\)-fold cross-validation as follows.

In [14]:
def k_fold_cross_valid(k, epochs, verbose_epoch, X_train, y_train,
                       learning_rate, weight_decay):
    assert k > 1
    fold_size = X_train.shape[0] // k
    train_loss_sum = 0.0
    test_loss_sum = 0.0
    for test_i in range(k):
        X_val_test = X_train[test_i * fold_size: (test_i + 1) * fold_size, :]
        y_val_test = y_train[test_i * fold_size: (test_i + 1) * fold_size]

        val_train_defined = False
        for i in range(k):
            if i != test_i:
                X_cur_fold = X_train[i * fold_size: (i + 1) * fold_size, :]
                y_cur_fold = y_train[i * fold_size: (i + 1) * fold_size]
                if not val_train_defined:
                    X_val_train = X_cur_fold
                    y_val_train = y_cur_fold
                    val_train_defined = True
                    X_val_train = nd.concat(X_val_train, X_cur_fold, dim=0)
                    y_val_train = nd.concat(y_val_train, y_cur_fold, dim=0)
        net = get_net()
        train_loss, test_loss = train(
            net, X_val_train, y_val_train, X_val_test, y_val_test,
            epochs, verbose_epoch, learning_rate, weight_decay)
        train_loss_sum += train_loss
        print("Test loss: %f" % test_loss)
        test_loss_sum += test_loss
    return train_loss_sum / k, test_loss_sum / k

Train and cross-validate the model

The following parameters can be fine-tuned.

In [15]:
k = 5
epochs = 100
verbose_epoch = 95
learning_rate = 5
weight_decay = 0.0

Given the above parameters, we can train and cross-validate our model.

In [16]:
train_loss, test_loss = k_fold_cross_valid(k, epochs, verbose_epoch, X_train,
                                           y_train, learning_rate, weight_decay)
print("%d-fold validation: Avg train loss: %f, Avg test loss: %f" %
      (k, train_loss, test_loss))
Epoch 96, train loss: 0.201713
Epoch 97, train loss: 0.199597
Epoch 98, train loss: 0.197594
Epoch 99, train loss: 0.195709
Test loss: 0.188469
Epoch 96, train loss: 0.198065
Epoch 97, train loss: 0.195917
Epoch 98, train loss: 0.193840
Epoch 99, train loss: 0.191888
Test loss: 0.211287
Epoch 96, train loss: 0.199244
Epoch 97, train loss: 0.197074
Epoch 98, train loss: 0.194988
Epoch 99, train loss: 0.193050
Test loss: 0.201556
Epoch 96, train loss: 0.201637
Epoch 97, train loss: 0.199430
Epoch 98, train loss: 0.197397
Epoch 99, train loss: 0.195466
Test loss: 0.178427
Epoch 96, train loss: 0.196650
Epoch 97, train loss: 0.194443
Epoch 98, train loss: 0.192334
Epoch 99, train loss: 0.190332
Test loss: 0.206326
5-fold validation: Avg train loss: 0.193289, Avg test loss: 0.197213

After fine-tuning, even though the training loss can be very low, but the validation loss for the \(k\)-fold cross validation can be very high. Thus, when the training loss is very low, we need to observe whether the validation loss is reduced at the same time and watch out for overfitting. We often rely on \(k\)-fold cross-validation to fine-tune parameters.

Make predictions and submit results on Kaggle

Let us define the prediction function.

In [17]:
def learn(epochs, verbose_epoch, X_train, y_train, test, learning_rate,
    net = get_net()
    train(net, X_train, y_train, None, None, epochs, verbose_epoch,
          learning_rate, weight_decay)
    preds = net(X_test).asnumpy()
    test['SalePrice'] = pd.Series(preds.reshape(1, -1)[0])
    submission = pd.concat([test['Id'], test['SalePrice']], axis=1)
    submission.to_csv('submission.csv', index=False)

After fine-tuning parameters, we can predict and submit results on Kaggle.

In [18]:
learn(epochs, verbose_epoch, X_train, y_train, test, learning_rate,
Epoch 96, train loss: 0.171151
Epoch 97, train loss: 0.170580
Epoch 98, train loss: 0.170049
Epoch 99, train loss: 0.169546

After executing the above code, a submission.csv file will be generated. It is in the required format by Kaggle. Now, we can submit our predicted sales prices of houses based on the testing data set and compare them with the true prices on Kaggle. You need to log in Kaggle, open the link to the house prediction problem, and click the Submit Predictions button.

You may click the Upload Submission File button to select your results. Then click Make Submission at the bottom to view your results.

Just a kind reminder again, Kaggle limits the number of daily submissions to 10.

Exercise (Share your score and method here):

For whinges or inquiries, open an issue on GitHub.