Training Parameters - Amazon Machine Learning

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Training Parameters

Typically, machine learning algorithms accept parameters that can be used to control certain properties of the training process and of the resulting ML model. In Amazon Machine Learning, these are called training parameters. You can set these parameters using the Amazon ML console, API, or command line interface (CLI). If you do not set any parameters, Amazon ML will use default values that are known to work well for a large range of machine learning tasks.

You can specify values for the following training parameters:

  • Maximum model size

  • Maximum number of passes over training data

  • Shuffle type

  • Regularization type

  • Regularization amount

In the Amazon ML console, the training parameters are set by default. The default settings are adequate for most ML problems, but you can choose other values to fine-tune the performance. Certain other training parameters, such as the learning rate, are configured for you based on your data.

The following sections provide more information about the training parameters.

Maximum Model Size

The maximum model size is the total size, in units of bytes, of patterns that Amazon ML creates during the training of an ML model.

By default, Amazon ML creates a 100 MB model. You can instruct Amazon ML to create a smaller or larger model by specifying a different size. For the range of available sizes, see Types of ML Models

If Amazon ML can't find enough patterns to fill the model size, it creates a smaller model. For example, if you specify a maximum model size of 100 MB, but Amazon ML finds patterns that total only 50 MB, the resulting model will be 50 MB. If Amazon ML finds more patterns than will fit into the specified size, it enforces a maximum cut-off by trimming the patterns that least affect the quality of the learned model.

Choosing the model size allows you to control the trade-off between a model's predictive quality and the cost of use. Smaller models can cause Amazon ML to remove many patterns to fit within the maximum size limit, affecting the quality of predictions. Larger models, on the other hand, cost more to query for real-time predictions.


If you use an ML model to generate real-time predictions, you will incur a small capacity reservation charge that is determined by the model's size. For more information, see Pricing for Amazon ML.

Larger input data sets do not necessarily result in larger models because models store patterns, not input data; if the patterns are few and simple, the resulting model will be small. Input data that has a large number of raw attributes (input columns) or derived features (outputs of the Amazon ML data transformations) will likely have more patterns found and stored during the training process. Picking the correct model size for your data and problem is best approached with a few experiments. The Amazon ML model training log (which you can download from the console or through the API) contains messages about how much model trimming (if any) occurred during the training process, allowing you to estimate the potential hit-to-prediction quality.

Maximum Number of Passes over the Data

For best results, Amazon ML may need to make multiple passes over your data to discover patterns. By default, Amazon ML makes 10 passes, but you can change the default by setting a number up to 100. Amazon ML keeps track of the quality of patterns (model convergence) as it goes along, and automatically stops the training when there are no more data points or patterns to discover. For example, if you set the number of passes to 20, but Amazon ML discovers that no new patterns can be found by the end of 15 passes, then it will stop the training at 15 passes.

In general, data sets with only a few observations typically require more passes over the data to obtain higher model quality. Larger data sets often contain many similar data points, which eliminates the need for a large number of passes. The impact of choosing more data passes over your data is two-fold: model training takes longer, and it costs more.

Shuffle Type for Training Data

In Amazon ML, you must shuffle your training data. Shuffling mixes up the order of your data so that the SGD algorithm doesn't encounter one type of data for too many observations in succession. For example, if you are training an ML model to predict a product type, and your training data includes movie, toy, and video game product types, if you sorted the data by the product type column before uploading it, the algorithm sees the data alphabetically by product type. The algorithm sees all of your data for movies first, and your ML model begins to learn patterns for movies. Then, when your model encounters data on toys, every update that the algorithm makes would fit the model to the toy product type, even if those updates degrade the patterns that fit movies. This sudden switch from movie to toy type can produce a model that doesn't learn how to predict product types accurately.

You must shuffle your training data even if you chose the random split option when you split the input datasource into training and evaluation portions. The random split strategy chooses a random subset of the data for each datasource, but it doesn't change the order of the rows in the datasource. For more information about splitting your data, see Splitting Your Data.

When you create an ML model using the console, Amazon ML defaults to shuffling the data with a pseudo-random shuffling technique. Regardless of the number of passes requested, Amazon ML shuffles the data only once before training the ML model. If you shuffled your data before providing it to Amazon ML and don't want Amazon ML to shuffle your data again, you can set the Shuffle type to none. For example, if you randomly shuffled the records in your .csv file before uploading it to Amazon S3, used the rand() function in your MySQL SQL query when creating your datasource from Amazon RDS, or used the random() function in your Amazon Redshift SQL query when creating your datasource from Amazon Redshift, setting Shuffle type to none won't impact the predictive accuracy of your ML model. Shuffling your data only once reduces the run-time and cost for creating an ML model.


When you create an ML model using the Amazon ML API, Amazon ML doesn't shuffle your data by default. If you use the API instead of the console to create your ML model, we strongly recommend that you shuffle your data by setting the sgd.shuffleType parameter to auto.

Regularization Type and Amount

The predictive performance of complex ML models (those having many input attributes) suffers when the data contains too many patterns. As the number of patterns increases, so does the likelihood that the model learns unintentional data artifacts, rather than true data patterns. In such a case, the model does very well on the training data, but can’t generalize well on new data. This phenomenon is known as overfitting the training data.

Regularization helps prevent linear models from overfitting training data examples by penalizing extreme weight values. L1 regularization reduces the number of features used in the model by pushing the weight of features that would otherwise have very small weights to zero. L1 regularization produces sparse models and reduces the amount of noise in the model. L2 regularization results in smaller overall weight values, which stabilizes the weights when there is high correlation between the features. You can control the amount of L1 or L2 regularization by using the Regularization amount parameter. Specifying an extremely large Regularization amount value can cause all features to have zero weight.

Selecting and tuning the optimal regularization value is an active subject in machine learning research. You will probably benefit from selecting a moderate amount of L2 regularization, which is the default in the Amazon ML console. Advanced users can choose between three types of regularization (none, L1, or L2) and amount. For more information about regularization, go to Regularization (mathematics).

Training Parameters: Types and Default Values

The following table lists the Amazon ML training parameters, along with the default values and the allowable range for each.

Training Parameter


Default Value




100,000,000 bytes (100 MiB)

Allowable range: 100,000 (100 KiB) to 2,147,483,648 (2 GiB)

Depending on the input data, the model size might affect the performance.




Allowable range: 1-100




Allowable values: auto or none



0 (By default, L1 isn't used)

Allowable range: 0 to MAX_DOUBLE

L1 values between 1E-4 and 1E-8 have been found to produce good results. Larger values are likely to produce models that aren't very useful.

You can't set both L1 and L2. You must choose one or the other.



1E-6 (By default, L2 is used with this amount of regularization)

Allowable range: 0 to MAX_DOUBLE

L2 values between 1E-2 and 1E-6 have been found to produce good results. Larger values are likely to produce models that aren't very useful.

You can't set both L1 and L2. You must choose one or the other.