Basic Dataset Conversion#

This guide covers how to convert your raw data to MDS format using streaming.MDSWriter. Writing to other supported shard formats is very similar. Read more about dataset shard formats in the Dataset Format guide. For a high-level explanation of how dataset writing works, check out the main concepts page.

Configuring dataset writing#

Use streaming.MDSWriter to convert raw data to MDS format. MDSWriter is like a native file writer; instead of writing the content line by line, MDSWriter writes the data sample by sample. It writes the data into shard files in a sequential manner (for example, shard.00000.mds, then shard.00001.mds, and so on). Configure streaming.MDSWriter according to your requirements with the parameters below:

  1. An out parameter is an output directory to save shard files. The out directory can be specified in three ways:

  • Local path: Shard files are stored locally.

  • Remote path: A local temporary directory is created to cache the shard files, and when shard creation is complete, they are uploaded to the remote location.

  • (local_dir, remote_dir) tuple: Shard files are saved in the specified local_dir and uploaded to remote_dir.

out = '/local/data'
out = 's3://bucket/data' # Will create a temporary local dir
out = ('/local/data', 'oci://bucket/data')
  1. The optional keep_local parameter controls if you would like to keep the shard files locally after they have been uploaded to a remote cloud location. To save local disk space, this defaults to False.

  2. A column parameter is a dict mapping a feature name or label name with a streaming supported encoding type. MDSWriter encodes your data to bytes, and at training time, data gets decoded back automatically to its original form. The index.json file stores column metadata for decoding. Supported encoding formats are:

Category

Name

Class

Notes

Encoding

‘bytes’

Bytes

no-op encoding

Encoding

‘str’

Str

stores in UTF-8

Encoding

‘int’

Int

Python int, uses numpy.int64 for encoding

Numpy Array

‘ndarray:dtype:shape’

NDArray(dtype: Optional[str] = None, shape: Optional[Tuple[int]] = None)

uses numpy.ndarray

Numpy Unsigned Int

‘uint8’

UInt8

uses numpy.uint8

Numpy Unsigned Int

‘uint16’

UInt16

uses numpy.uint16

Numpy Unsigned Int

‘uint32’

Uint32

uses numpy.uint32

Numpy Unsigned Int

‘uint64’

Uint64

uses numpy.uint64

Numpy Signed Int

‘int8’

Int8

uses numpy.int8

Numpy Signed Int

‘int16’

Int16

uses numpy.int16

Numpy Signed Int

‘int32’

Int32

uses numpy.int32

Numpy Signed Int

‘int64’

Int64

uses numpy.int64

Numpy Float

‘float16’

Float16

uses numpy.float16

Numpy Float

‘float32’

Float32

uses numpy.float32

Numpy Float

‘float64’

Float64

uses numpy.float64

Numerical String

‘str_int’

StrInt

stores in UTF-8

Numerical String

‘str_float’

StrFloat

stores in UTF-8

Numerical String

‘str_decimal’

StrDecimal

stores in UTF-8

Image

‘pil’

PIL

raw PIL image class (link)

Image

‘jpeg’

JPEG

PIL image as JPEG

Image

‘png’

PNG

PIL image as PNG

Pickle

‘pkl’

Pickle

arbitrary Python objects

JSON

‘json’

JSON

arbitrary data as JSON

Here’s an example where the field x is an image, and y is a class label, as an integer.

column = {
    'x': 'jpeg',
    'y': 'int8',
}

If the data type you need is not listed in the above table, then you can write your own data type class with encode and decode methods in it and patch it inside streaming. For example, let’s say, you wanted to add a complex128 data type (64 bits each for real and imaginary parts):

import numpy as np
from typing import Any

from streaming.base.format.mds.encodings import Encoding, _encodings

class Complex128(Encoding):

    def encode(self, obj: Any) -> bytes:
        return np.complex128(obj).tobytes()

    def decode(self, data: bytes) -> Any:
        return np.frombuffer(data, np.complex128)[0]

_encodings['complex128'] = Complex128
  1. An optional shard size_limit, in bytes, for each uncompressed shard file. This defaults to 67 MB. Specify this as a number of bytes, either directly as an int, or a human-readable suffix:

size_limit = 1024 # 1kB limit, as an int
size_limit = '1kb' # 1kB limit, as a human-readable string

Shard file size depends on the dataset size, but generally, too small of a shard size creates a ton of shard files and heavy network overheads, and too large of a shard size creates fewer shard files, but downloads are less balanced. A shard size of between 50-100MB works well in practice.

  1. An optional compression algorithm name (and level) if you would like to compress the shard files. This can reduce egress costs during training. StreamingDataset will uncompress shard files upon download during training. You can control whether to keep compressed shard files locally during training with the keep_zip flag – more information here.

Supported compression algorithms:

Name

Code

Min Level

Default Level

Max Level

Brotli

br

0

11

11

Bzip2

bz2

1

9

9

Gzip

gz

0

9

9

Snappy

snappy

Zstandard

zstd

1

3

22

The compression algorithm to use, if any, is specified by passing code or code:level as a string. For example:

compression = 'zstd' # zstd, defaults to level 3.
compression = 'zstd:9' # zstd, specifying level 9.

The higher the level, the higher the compression ratio. However, using higher compression levels will impact the compression speed. In our experience, zstd is optimal over the time-size Pareto frontier. Compression is most beneficial for text, whereas it is less helpful for other modalities like images.

  1. An optional hashes list of algorithm names, used to verify data integrity. Hashes are saved in the index.json file. Hash verification during training is controlled with the validate_hash argument more information here.

Available cryptographic hash functions:

Hash

Digest Bytes

‘blake2b’

64

‘blake2s’

32

‘md5’

16

‘sha1’

20

‘sha224’

28

‘sha256’

32

‘sha384’

48

‘sha512’

64

‘sha3_224’

28

‘sha3_256’

32

‘sha3_384’

48

‘sha3_512’

64

Available non-cryptographic hash functions:

Hash

Digest Bytes

‘xxh32’

4

‘xxh64’

8

‘xxh128’

16

‘xxh3_64’

8

‘xxh3_128’

16

As an example:

hashes = ['sha256', 'xxh64']

Example: Writing a dataset to MDS format#

Let’s put it all together with an example. Here, we create a synthetic classification dataset that returns a tuple of features and a label.

import numpy as np

class RandomClassificationDataset:
    """Classification dataset drawn from a normal distribution.

    Args:
        shape: data sample dimensions (default: (10,))
        size: number of samples (default: 10000)
        num_classes: number of classes (default: 2)
    """

    def __init__(self, shape=(10,), size=10000, num_classes=2):
        self.size = size
        self.x = np.random.randn(size, *shape)
        self.y = np.random.randint(0, num_classes, size)

    def __len__(self):
        return self.size

    def __getitem__(self, index: int):
        return self.x[index], self.y[index]

Here, we write shards to a local directory. You can specify a remote path as well.

output_dir = 'test_output_dir'

Specify the column encoding types for each sample and label:

columns = {'x': 'pkl', 'y': 'int64'}

Optionally, specify a compression algorithm and level:

compression = 'zstd:7' # compress shards with ZStandard, level 7

Optionally, specify a list of hash algorithms for verification:

hashes = ['sha1'] # Use only SHA1 hashing on each shard

Optionally, provide a shard size limit, after which a new shard starts. In this small example, we use 10kb, but for production datasets 50-100MB is more appropriate.

# Here we use a human-readable string, but we could also
# pass in an int specifying the number of bytes.
limit = '10kb'

It’s time to call the streaming.MDSWriter with the above initialized parameters and write the samples by iterating over a dataset.

from streaming.base import MDSWriter

dataset = RandomClassificationDataset()
with MDSWriter(out=output_dir, columns=columns, compression=compression, hashes=hashes, size_limit=limit) as out:
    for x, y in dataset:
        out.write({'x': x, 'y': y})

Clean up after ourselves.

from shutil import rmtree

rmtree(output_dir)

Once the dataset has been written, the output directory contains an index.json file that contains shard metadata, the shard files themselves. For example,

dirname
├── index.json
├── shard.00000.mds.zstd
└── shard.00001.mds.zstd

Example: Writing ndarrays to MDS format#

Here, we show how to write ndarrays to MDS format in three ways:

  1. dynamic shape and dtype

  2. dynamic shape but fixed dtype

  3. fixed shape and dtype

Serializing ndarrays with fixed dtype and shape is more efficient than fixed dtype and dynamic shape, which is in turn more efficient than dynamic dtype and shape.

Dynamic shape, dynamic dtype#

The streaming encoding type, as the value in the columns dict, should simply be ndarray.

import numpy as np
from streaming.base import MDSWriter, StreamingDataset
# Write to MDS
with MDSWriter(out='my_dataset1/',
               columns={'my_array': 'ndarray'}) as out:
    for i in range(42):
        # Dimension can change
        ndim = np.random.randint(1, 5)
        shape = np.random.randint(1, 5, ndim)
        shape = tuple(shape.tolist())
        my_array = np.random.normal(0, 1, shape)
        out.write({'my_array': my_array})

# Inspect dataset
dataset = StreamingDataset(local='my_dataset1/', batch_size=1)
for i in range(dataset.num_samples):
    print(dataset[i])

Dynamic shape, fixed dtype#

The streaming encoding type, as the value in the columns dict, should be ndarray:dtype. So in this example, it is ndarray:int16.

# Write to MDS
with MDSWriter(out='my_dataset2/',
               columns={'my_array': 'ndarray:int16'}) as out:
    for i in range(42):
        # Dimension can change
        ndim = np.random.randint(1, 5)
        shape = np.random.randint(1, 5, ndim)
        shape = tuple(shape.tolist())
        # Datatype is fixed
        my_array = np.random.normal(0, 100, shape).astype(np.int16)
        out.write({'my_array': my_array})

# Inspect dataset
dataset = StreamingDataset(local='my_dataset2/', batch_size=1)
for i in range(dataset.num_samples):
    print(dataset[i])

Fixed shape, fixed dtype#

The streaming encoding type, as the value in the columns dict, should be ndarray:dtype:shape. So in this example, it is ndarray:int16:3,3,3.

# Write to MDS
with MDSWriter(out='my_dataset3/',
               columns={'my_array': 'ndarray:int16:3,3,3'}) as out:
    for i in range(42):
        # Shape is fixed
        shape = 3, 3, 3
        # Datatype is fixed
        my_array = np.random.normal(0, 100, shape).astype(np.int16)
        out.write({'my_array': my_array})

# Inspect dataset
dataset = StreamingDataset(local='my_dataset3/', batch_size=1)
for i in range(dataset.num_samples):
    print(dataset[i])

We can see that the dataset is more efficiently serialized when we are more specific about array shape and datatype:

import subprocess

# Dynamic shape, dynamic dtype uses most space
subprocess.run(['du', '-sh', 'my_dataset1'])

# Dynamic shape, fixed dtype uses less space
subprocess.run(['du', '-sh', 'my_dataset2'])

# Fixed shape, fixed dtype uses the least space
subprocess.run(['du', '-sh', 'my_dataset3'])

Clean up after ourselves.

from shutil import rmtree

rmtree('my_dataset1')
rmtree('my_dataset2')
rmtree('my_dataset3')