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Frequently asked questions


Using Guild AI

When does it make sense to use Guild AI?

Guild supports collaborative development among data scientists, software engineers, and systems engineers. If you work with others in the development and deployment/running of your models, Guild provides some useful features.

In particular Guild is helpful when you have any of these goals:

  • Standardize your TensorFlow projects to simplify how you and others work with them
  • Collect and visualize detailed data on model performance to inform operational and system decisions, as well as make model improvements
  • Automatically preserve the results of every training experiment
  • Run your trained models on your own infrastructure, AWS, or other hosted GPU environments

When would I not use Guild AI?

Guild provides structure to a TensorFlow project. In early stages when you’re working alone, it may not make sense to integrate Guild into your project. As your project matures and you want to publish it for others to use and improve, Guild will provide a consistent interface along with features for easily visualizing, tracking, and running your models.

You can typically integrate Guild into a project in under an hour — so you don’t need start your project with Guild integration.

Does Guild AI incur additional overhead when training models?

Yes, Guild runs your model and also collects and logs additional data in the background. However, Guild is designed to minimize the impact on your system during training.

Logs are buffered and compressed in time series ranges to reduce the storage requirements and number of indexes created as events are logged. Guild databases tend to be small — typically less than 1/10 the size of TensorFlow logs themselves.

Guild collects data in relatively coarse grained increments (usually every 60 seconds, though this is configurable per project) and incurs virtually no overhead when it’s idle.

Guild CPU usage during training is typically less than 1%. The Guild process itself requires approximately 40 MB of resident memory.


How much does Guild AI cost?

Guild AI is 100% free, open source software released under the Apache 2 license.

That said, any tool costs time and effort to use. We’re working hard to make Guild AI as simple as possible — if you have suggestions to improve Guild AI, please feel free to open an issue on GitHub.

Can I use Guild AI in a commercial application?

Yes. The Apache 2 license allows you to freely distribute Guild AI source without requiring you to release your changes under a particular license.


What language is Guild AI written in?

Guild tools are actually written in several languages:

  • Python is the primary interface to TensorFlow
  • bash is used for system scripting
  • Erlang provides the control layer for most of the Guild operations

Training operations in deep learning applications are intense systems operations. They may last for not just minutes or hours, but days and weeks! This is a somewhat novel problem in software — very long running batch operations.

Guild AI’s focus on operations further adds to the novelty of this problem — it must reliably and efficiently collect a variety of system statistics in the background while ensuring the smooth functioning of the training operation.

Erlang is a proven tool for handling concurrent activities with high levels of uptime and reliability. While Python is the obvious choice for advanced scripting applications, Guild AI’s core control layer benefits from Erlang’s unique approach to managing long running processes.

Python is used in Guild AI for many important tasks, not the least of which is interfacing with TensorFlow itself. Python is also used to implement the system stat collectors. If you’re interested in contributing to Guild AI and don’t know Erlang, don’t despair! There’s a good chance your Python skillset can be applied directly to Guild AI’s many non-Erlang extension points.

Why does Guild duplicate TensorFlow scalar summaries in its own database?

As background to this question, Guild tails the event logs during certain operations (notably train) and rewrites scalar summaries in its own database, effectively duplicating the data.

Guild does this for primarily performance reasons as it can take several minutes to load large TensorFlow event logs into memory. This problem is compounded when run results are aggregated, as in the case of the Guild compare table.

While Guild does duplicate some of TensorFlow’s event logs, it is careful to minimize the impact on system performance, both in terms of disk IO and storage. For more information see the answer to Does Guild AI incur additional overhead when training models above.