Loops with theano

Basic scan usage

scan is used for calling function multiple times over a list of values, the function may contain state.

scan syntax (as of theano 0.9):


This can be very confusing at a first glance. We will explain several basic but important scan usage in multiple code examples.

The following code examples assume you have executed imports:

import numpy as np
import theano
import theano.tensor as T

sequences - Map a function over a list

In the simplest case, scan just maps a pure function (a function without state) to a list. The lists is specified in the sequences argument

  s_x = T.ivector()
  s_y, _ = theano.scan(
      fn = lambda x:x*x,
      sequences = [s_x])
  fn = theano.function([s_x], s_y)
  fn([1,2,3,4,5]) #[1,4,9,16,25]

Note scan have two return values, the former is the resulting list, and the latter is the updates to state value, which will be explained later.

sequences - Zip a function over a list

Almost same as above, just give sequences argument a list of two elements. The order of the two elements should match to the order of arguments in fn

  s_x1 = T.ivector()
  s_x2 = T.ivector()
  s_y, _ = theano.scan(
      fn = lambda x1,x2:x1**x2,
      sequences = [s_x1, s_x2])
  fn = theano.function([s_x], s_y)
  fn([1,2,3,4,5],[0,1,2,3,4]) #[1,2,9,64,625]

outputs_info - Accumulate a list

Accumulation involves a state variable. State variables need initial values, which shall be specified in the outputs_info parameter.

  s_x = T.ivector()
  v_sum = th.shared(np.int32(0))
  s_y, update_sum = theano.scan(
      lambda x,y:x+y,
      sequences = [s_x],
      outputs_info = [s_sum])
  fn = theano.function([s_x], s_y, updates=update_sum)
  v_sum.get_value() # 0
  fn([1,2,3,4,5]) # [1,3,6,10,15]
  v_sum.get_value() # 15
  fn([-1,-2,-3,-4,-5]) # [14,12,9,5,0]
  v_sum.get_value() # 0

We put a shared variable into outputs_info, this will cause scan return updates to our shared variable, which can then be put into theano.function.

non_sequences and n_steps - Orbit of logistic map x -> lambda*x*(1-x)

You can give inputs that does not change during scan in non_sequences argument. In this case s_lambda is a non-changing variable (but NOT a constant since it must be supplied during runtime).

  s_x = T.fscalar()
  s_lambda = T.fscalar()
  s_t = T.iscalar()
  s_y, _ = theano.scan(
      fn = lambda x,l: l*x*(1-x),
      outputs_info = [s_x],
      non_sequences = [s_lambda],
      n_steps = s_t
  fn = theano.function([s_x, s_lambda, s_t], s_y)

  fn(.75, 4., 10) #a stable orbit

  #[ 0.75,  0.75,  0.75,  0.75,  0.75,  0.75,  0.75,  0.75,  0.75,  0.75]

  fn(.65, 4., 10) #a chaotic orbit

  #[ 0.91000003,  0.32759991,  0.88111287,  0.41901192,  0.97376364,
  # 0.10219204,  0.3669953 ,  0.92923898,  0.2630156 ,  0.77535355]

Taps - Fibonacci

states/inputs may come in multiple timesteps. This is done by:

  • putting dict(input=<init_value>, taps=<list of int>) inside sequences argument.

  • putting dict(initial=<init_value>, taps=<list of int>) inside outputs_info argument.

In this example, we use two taps in outputs_info to compute recurrence relation x_n = x_{n-1} + x_{n-2}.

s_x0 = T.iscalar()
s_x1 = T.iscalar()
s_n = T.iscalar()
s_y, _ = theano.scan(
    fn = lambda x1,x2: x1+x2,
    outputs_info = [dict(initial=T.join(0,[s_x0, s_x1]), taps=[-2,-1])],
    n_steps = s_n
fn_fib = theano.function([s_x0, s_x1, s_n], s_y)
# [2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144]

theano map and reduce

theano.map and theano.scan_module.reduce are wrappers of theano_scan. They can be seen as handicapped version of scan. You can view Basic scan usage section for reference.

import theano
import theano.tensor as T
s_x = T.ivector()
s_sqr, _ = theano.map(
    fn = lambda x:x*x,
    sequences = [s_x])
s_sum, _ = theano.reduce(
    fn = lambda: x,y:x+y,
    sequences = [s_x],
    outputs_info = [0])
fn = theano.function([s_x], [s_sqr, s_sum])
fn([1,2,3,4,5]) #[1,4,9,16,25], 15

making while loop

As of theano 0.9, while loops can be done via theano.scan_module.scan_utils.until. To use, you should return until object in fn of scan.

In the following example, we build a function that checks whether a complex number is inside Mandelbrot set. A complex number z_0 is inside mandelbrot set if series z_{n+1} = z_{n}^2 + z_0 does not converge.

MAX_ITER = 256
s_z0 = th.cscalar()
def iterate(s_i_, s_z_, s_z0_):
    return [s_z_*s_z_+s_z0_,s_i_+1], {}, until(T.abs_(s_z_)>BAILOUT)
(_1, s_niter), _2 = theano.scan(
    fn = iterate,
    outputs_info = [0, s_z0],
    non_sequences = [s_z0],
    n_steps = MAX_ITER
fn_mandelbrot_iters = theano.function([s_z0], s_niter)
def is_in_mandelbrot(z_):
    return fn_mandelbrot_iters(z_)>=MAX_ITER

is_in_mandelbrot(0.24+0.j) # True
is_in_mandelbrot(1.j) # True
is_in_mandelbrot(0.26+0.j) # False