Machine Learning
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15
 minutes read

Challenges in Deploying Machine Learning Models

Many organizations are looking to deploy machine learning models, but challenges arise when maintaining good model performance. These challenges are often met with many solutions.

By 
Harshil Patel
Challenges in Deploying Machine Learning Models
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Machine learning is a booming industry that has brought incredible advancements in various fields. From small startups to large organizations, everyone is adopting ML and AI for their business and applications. Many organizations are looking to deploy machine learning models, but challenges arise when maintaining good model performance. These challenges are often met with many solutions, including data augmentation, transfer learning, and much more.

In this article, we will learn about:

  • Challenges faced during Data Management Stage
  • Challenges faced during Experimentation and Deployment Stage
  • Ways to Improve Model Performance


Data Management 

Cleaning and organising data takes up 60% of a data scientist's time, according to research. To perform well at this stage, you must keep your ML Experiment's ongoing process focused on both data and the environment. This is because you may discover model accuracy difficulties if the input data changes. Many challenges with data, such as data collection, preparation, quality, and volume, may arise. Let's learn about some of the difficulties you might encounter at this point.

Data Collection 

As stated above, the team spends the majority of its time collecting data. Data is available in various forms and files, making it difficult to collect the relevant data in the required format. Models frequently require large datasets during the training process to improve their effectiveness when predicting against actual data. These datasets create several unique challenges, including the difficulty of moving data, the high cost of data transfer, and the length of time it takes.

Data preprocessing

Data preprocessing is the process of taking raw data and cleaning it, filling in any missing values, and organizing it in a way that is easy to work with. It's crucial to preprocess your data because if you don't, you'll spend an enormous amount of time and resources trying to clean and organize messy data later. Data preparation issues exist in a variety of forms, like : 

- Missing Data

- Inconsistency In Data

-  Wrong data types

- Units of measurement

- Different Formats

- Modification of files and a lot more. Sometimes minor issues can make a big difference when working with data. 

Data augmentation

There are various reasons why data might need to be augmented, but one of the most challenging is the lack of labels. Because real-world data is frequently unlabeled, labeling is a difficult task itself. One of the most significant hurdles when migrating machine learning solutions from the lab to the real world is gaining access to high-variance data. If data is not correctly labeled, it might cause problems in training. The best way to deal with data labeling is to use a data annotation platform to manage your training data in one place. 

Infrastructure and management problems

Machine learning projects and applications require specific infrastructures, such as GPUs and High-Density Cores. Because these infrastructure requirements (particularly GPU) are expensive, companies often cut resources to save money. The best way to deal with this is to train models on a cloud-based system. 

Setting up a good team environment and resources is the best way to get a model to production. Even if you have the best model, it won't make it to production if your company doesn't recognize its potential. Companies frequently reduce the number of resources required to save money,resulting in production problems.

To overcome the Data Management challenge, organizations must spend time improving Infrastructure and Collection Practices. Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) based on data and proof can motivate organizations to develop their data collection procedures. Organizations must work on creating mandatory data fields and creating a proper training data pipeline. There are many different ways to deal with data issues. Imputation is one of the options for dealing with missing data. Missing values are replaced with other values such as mean, median, mode, random sampling, interpolation, etc. You can even build a new N/A class if you have a category value. You can use many Open-source or paid platforms to manage data pipelines

Experimentation

The experiment stage is the most critical part of the machine learning process, and it's not a decision to make but an action to take. This phase involves training the algorithm on data by presenting it with different examples and making predictions about them. There are no active decisions made during this time, so the algorithm needs data to continue making predictions and learning from its mistakes. 

This phase aims to prove that the model can generalize beyond its training environment and has achieved “good coverage.” As a result, an experiment provides statistical significance and accuracy measures for evaluating performance during this period. So let's discuss the challenges faced during this phase. 

Model selection

Model selection is the process of selecting a set of models to make predictions. These models are then compared against the data to understand which ones work the best. Among these models, there may be hundreds of possible combinations. In simple terms, the problem is defined by the process of picking models as the final model. There are numerous factors to consider while choosing models, as well as multiple model selection approaches.

Feature engineering 

Feature engineering is a machine learning technique for creating new variables that aren't in the training set using data. Your model might not perform as expected if the model lacks proper feature and proper segmentation.  

After you've prepared your data, you'll go on to the next step. It can generate new features for both supervised and unsupervised learning, ensuring a good model performance with implemented features. 

Learn More About Feature Engineering

Hyper-parameter selection 

A machine learning algorithm goes through several hyperparameters during optimization. Learning hyperparameters is a common practice in machine learning. However, the process is not always straightforward, making it difficult to understand the algorithm’s progress. One problem arises when too many/fewer hyperparameters are used for an algorithm to optimize or tune at any given time due to high dimensionality and/or small size of input data sets. This activity is frequently performed by hand, using a basic trial and error method. Grid searches, random search methods, Bayesian optimization approaches, and a simple, informed guess are all examples of strategies to tune hyperparameters.


Training 

One of the biggest concerns with model training is the time and economic expense. Training a model takes hours, if not days, to complete and necessitates specialized infrastructure. Many companies' applications take more than 50,000 GPU hours to train. Because training takes a long time, you need to provide quick troubleshooting during the training process by employing features like monitoring, logging, and validation. If the training process fails, it is critical to provide simple solutions for resolving the problem and continuing/restarting the training. You have to spend a good amount of money and resources on training your models. 


Model accuracy evaluation

Following training, the model's accuracy must be assessed to see if it fulfills the required standard for production prediction. You repeat the training/data management stages to keep improving accuracy until you reach a satisfactory level. If you are not getting good accuracy, you might have issues with some steps or the training data. It is a good idea to retrain your model before moving forward to the next steps. 


Tracking experiments 

One of the most critical features of machine learning workflow is that it allows data scientists to keep track of trials and see what changed between runs. They should be able to quickly trace changes in datasets, architecture, code, and hyper-parameters across experiments.

Experiment tracking has been used for various tasks, including reinforcement learning, clustering, statistical inference, and machine translation. Another common use is choosing which crops to plant in a field over time, given historical information about past harvests. In each of these cases, the goal is to select a subset of inputs with higher performance compared to all possible subsets. This lets you test a large number of options by running a smaller number of experiments.

Explore - Censius AI Observability Platform


Deployment 

Repeat the process above till you get the desired result. It's a good idea to evaluate your model's performance before moving on to the development phase. After you train your model, it's time to deploy it. At this stage you may face other challenges and there will be many things you need to take care of. This stage will ensure how your model will perform in production. So let's discuss a few things you need to take care of while and after deploying your models to production. 

Monitoring

In order to have a successful machine learning model, it is paramount to monitor how the data being fed into the model changes over time. When you see drops in accuracy, changes in bias, or other unforeseen outcomes, it can help you to keep your models from spiraling out of control. 

One of the main purposes of monitoring your machine learning is to ensure that the data you're using is high-quality. A lot of machine learning solutions depend on data input such as customer profiles, sales figures, and inventory for running algorithms and generating predictions. If the input is incorrect or incomplete, then there's a higher chance that your machine learning models will also produce incorrect output. Another key aspect of monitoring your machine learning is to perform a post-analysis, which compares what you've learned from your models after they've been trained. This helps to make sure that the models work correctly and produce outputs like you want them to. By doing this check, it can help you to identify potential problems and fix them before they become big issues in your systems or processes.

Drift

Model/Data drift is the most common issue seen in production models. It happens due to small or sudden changes in the external environment. The Covid-19 crisis or random seasonal changes are great examples for model drift. A person's shopping interest might change with change in season, while your model might degrade with these kinds of changes. Problems with data distribution or  data integrity can also cause drift. 

You can prevent drift by retraining your model, making changes with the segments or dropping some features that create issues. Over time, all models degenerate. Low data quality, faulty pipelines, and technological issues can all cause performance decreases, but by monitoring and following the right steps, you can make your machine learning journey much easier.

Image depicting different kinds of ML model drifts across time
Different kinds of drifts. Source: ResearchGate


Model reusability

In software engineering, code reuse can reduce the amount of code that needs to be maintained while also encouraging modularity and extensibility. The concept of reuse can be used in machine learning models. Consider Pinterest as an example. Pinterest's visual search is powered by image embeddings. They employed three different embeddings, each tailored for a specific goal. As a result, maintaining, deploying, and versioning the many embeddings became increasingly difficult. They came up with a solution by combining embeddings into a multi-task learning framework. As a result, there is less maintenance and better performance.

When it comes to data preparation and training, using a repeatable, reusable programme makes things more reliable and scalable. Notebooks are difficult to manage in general, but using Python files may be a good alternative because it will improve the quality of the job. Treating your machine learning environment like code is the key to creating a repeatable pipeline. This way, key events can trigger the execution of your complete end-to-end pipeline.

Collaboration 

Sometimes, due to lack of collaboration and communication between teams, many problems occur in production models. You can lower the risk by involving collaborators in your research plan. A collaboration may involve many different people who naturally have specialized knowledge across different fields.

Collaboration can help you to reach your target by involving multiple people with different backgrounds and expertise. For instance, say you want to team up with scientists to work on some project related to medicine. Those scientists might be very familiar with medical issues but also have little knowledge or interest in data science. You would need to make sure that the person you are collaborating with is properly trained on data science concepts and is comfortable working on machine learning projects as well, so that they can contribute to your project’s overall success.


Security 

Security is an important concern for any software development project, including the machine learning field. It's important to follow through on security best practices from beginning to end because companies could inadvertently create software that might allow data theft or losses from unauthorized actions taken by malicious parties. Sometimes attackers attempt to tamper with the training data in order to gain access to model predictions. 

When creating machine-learning models, the most important thing to do is to design them in a way that makes them secure. Unfortunately, in-house development teams often don't think about security when designing their machine learning models because there isn't an obvious "researchable" attack surface.

Ways to improve model performance

Machine learning is revolutionizing many aspects of our day-to-day lives. From getting directions to telling us when to leave for the airport, machine learning algorithms are used in more and more places every day. Unfortunately, some problems with modern machine learning models are unavoidable; there are some things that can't be solved by data alone.

Although many people believe that these issues will be overcome over time, it's important not to ignore them in the meantime! There are a number of ways you can improve model performance today - let's take a look at a few ways to improve model performance. .

Data - The more the better. The greatest method to improve model performance is to add more data. The performance is also improved by resampling, cleaning, and obtaining more data. You may not be able to upload more data at times, but you can still create new data or obtain data from external sources. The greatest method to improve model performance is to add more data.

Experimenting with Multiple Algorithms. Sometimes you implement a method that doesn't truly apply to the data you have, and as a result, you don't obtain the results you want. Working with different algorithms might help improve the model performance. By experimenting with multiple algorithms, you'll be able to learn more about your data and the storey it's attempting to tell.The purpose here is to increase performance by combining the results of different algorithms. Google's search engine, for example, uses a variety of statistical models to determine its results.

Cross-Validation, Cross-validation is a machine learning technique that improves the model training process by breaking the whole training set into smaller chunks and then training the model with each slice.

You can improve the algorithm's training process by training it using different chunks and averaging the results with this strategy. This method is widely used due to its simplicity and ease of implementation.


Conclusion 

One of the key features of machine learning, from a researcher's perspective is to build models that can be deployed to production. This means that the model has to be put into a state where it can be used by an end-user quickly and efficiently. 

Machine learning models are data-hungry. As the size of training sets grows, the time needed to train a model also increases exponentially. If you don’t monitor or govern your models properly, they can degrade. Following the MLOps practices, will ensure that your models perform well in the future. We learned about different challenges faced during the machine learning journey and few ways to improve model performance. Hope you liked the article, happy experimenting!

If you have any questions regarding article or want to connect with us, drop a message at hello@censius.ai

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