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Hyperparameter Search

Models can be further refined by using hyperparameter search and cross validation. We currently support random and grid search algorithms, and k-fold cross validation.


The parameters passed to pgml.train() easily allow one to perform hyperparameter tuning. The three parameters relevant to this are: search, search_params and search_args.

Parameter Example
search grid
search_params {"alpha": [0.1, 0.2, 0.5] }
search_args {"n_iter": 10 }


SELECT * FROM pgml.train(
    'Handwritten Digit Image Classifier', 
    algorithm => 'xgboost', 
    search => 'grid', 
    search_params => '{
        "max_depth": [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], 
        "n_estimators": [20, 40, 80, 160]

You may pass any of the arguments listed in the algorithms documentation as hyperparameters. See Algorithms for the complete list of algorithms and their associated hyperparameters.

Search Algorithms

We currently support two search algorithms: random and grid.

Algorithm Description
grid Trains every permutation of search_params using a cartesian product.
random Randomly samples search_params up to n_iter number of iterations provided in search_args.


PostgresML automatically selects the optimal set of hyperparameters for the model, and that combination is highlighted in the Dashboard, among all other search candidates.

The impact of each hyperparameter is measured against the key metric (r2 for regression and f1 for classification), as well as the training and test times.

Hyperparameter Analysis


In our example case, it's interesting that as max_depth increases, the "Test Score" on the key metric trends lower, so the smallest value of max_depth is chosen to maximize the "Test Score".

Luckily, the smallest max_depth values also have the fastest "Fit Time", indicating that we pay less for training these higher quality models.

It's a little less obvious how the different values n_estimators and learning_rate impact the test score. We may want to rerun our search and zoom in on our the search space to get more insight.


In our example above, the grid search will train len(max_depth) * len(n_estimators) * len(learning_rate) = 6 * 4 * 4 = 96 combinations to compare all possible permutations of search_params.

It only took about a minute on my computer because we're using optimized Rust/C++ XGBoost bindings, but you can delete some values if you want to speed things up even further. I like to watch all cores operate at 100% utilization in a separate terminal with htop:


In the end, we get the following output:

              project               |      task      | algorithm | deployed
 Handwritten Digit Image Classifier | classification | xgboost   | t
(1 row)

A new model has been deployed with better performance and metrics. There will also be a new analysis available for this model, viewable in the dashboard.