Exporting timm Image Classifiers from Fastai to TorchScript

Learn how to export timm image classification models from PyTorch to TorchScript for optimized, platform-independent deployment and enhanced performance.

Christian Mills


October 8, 2023


Welcome back to this series on fine-tuning image classifiers with fastai and the timm library! Previously, we demonstrated how to fine-tune a ResNet18 model from the timm library with fastai by creating a hand gesture classifier. This tutorial builds on that by showing how to export the underlying PyTorch model to TorchScript for seamless deployment across various platforms and optimized inference.

Exporting a PyTorch model to TorchScript offers performance optimization through JIT compilation, ensuring faster and more efficient model execution. This conversion also enhances deployment flexibility by enabling platform independence, especially in environments where Python isn’t available, and ensures consistent behavior across diverse platforms. Additionally, TorchScript provides robustness with static typing and boosts security by decoupling from the Python runtime.

Additionally, we’ll wrap the PyTorch model with the required preprocessing and post-processing steps to include them in the TorchScript module. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have a deployable TorchScript ResNet18 model compatible with various environments and which contains all crucial processing steps for real-world use.

This post assumes the reader has completed the previous tutorial linked below:

Getting Started with the Code

As with the previous tutorial, the code is available as a Jupyter Notebook.

Jupyter Notebook Google Colab
GitHub Repository Open In Colab

Importing the Required Dependencies

First, we will import the necessary Python dependencies into our Jupyter Notebook.

# Import Python Standard Library dependencies
import json
from pathlib import Path
import random

# Import utility functions
from cjm_psl_utils.core import download_file
from cjm_pil_utils.core import resize_img

# Import numpy
import numpy as np

# Import the pandas package
import pandas as pd

# Import PIL for image manipulation
from PIL import Image

# Import PyTorch dependencies
import torch
from torch import nn

# Import fastai function to load a saved learner object 
from fastai.learner import load_learner

Setting Up the Project

Next, we will set the folder locations for our project and training session with the exported Learner object.

Set the Directory Paths

# The name for the project
project_name = f"fastai-timm-image-classifier"

# The path for the project folder
project_dir = Path(f"./{project_name}/")

# Create the project directory if it does not already exist
project_dir.mkdir(parents=True, exist_ok=True)

# The path to the checkpoint folder
checkpoint_dir = Path(project_dir/f"2023-10-06_11-17-36")

    "Project Directory:": project_dir,
    "Checkpoint Directory:": checkpoint_dir,
Project Directory: fastai-timm-image-classifier
Checkpoint Directory: fastai-timm-image-classifier/2023-10-06_11-17-36
Those following along on Google Colab can drag the contents of their checkpoint folder into Colab’s file browser.

Loading the Checkpoint Data

Now, we can load the class labels and normalization stats and get the fine-tuned ResNet18-D model from the saved Learner object.

Load the Class Labels

# The class labels path
class_labels_path = list(checkpoint_dir.glob('*classes.json'))[0]

# Load the JSON class labels data
with open(class_labels_path, 'r') as file:
        class_labels_json = json.load(file)

# Get the list of classes
class_names = class_labels_json['classes']

# Print the list of classes
0 call
1 dislike
2 fist
3 four
4 like
5 mute
6 no_gesture
7 ok
8 one
9 palm
10 peace
11 peace_inverted
12 rock
13 stop
14 stop_inverted
15 three
16 three2
17 two_up
18 two_up_inverted

Load the Normalization Statistics

# The normalization stats path
norm_stats_path = checkpoint_dir/'norm_stats.json'

# Read the normalization stats from the JSON file
with open(norm_stats_path, "r") as f:
    norm_stats_dict = json.load(f)

# Convert the dictionary to a tuple
norm_stats = (norm_stats_dict["mean"], norm_stats_dict["std_dev"])

# Print the mean and standard deviation
0 1 2
0 0.485 0.456 0.406
1 0.229 0.224 0.225

Load the Learner Checkpoint

# The learner checkpoint path
checkpoint_path = list(checkpoint_dir.glob('*.pkl'))[0]

# Load the learner checkpoint onto the CPU
learner = load_learner(checkpoint_path)

Get the Finetuned Model

# Load the fine-tuned model from the exported Learner object
model = load_learner(checkpoint_path).model

Exporting the Model to TorchScript

Before exporting the model, we will wrap it with the preprocessing and post-processing steps. These steps will be included in the TorchScript module, reducing the code we need to write when deploying the model to other platforms.

Prepare the Model for Inference

Whenever we make predictions with the model, we must normalize the input data and pass the model output through a Softmax function. We can define a wrapper class that automatically performs these steps.

Additionally, we can include options to scale pixel data from the range [0,255] to[0,1] and set the model to expect input tensors in channels-last format. These settings can be helpful when deploying to platforms where tensor operations are less convenient.

Define model export wrapper

class InferenceWrapper(nn.Module):
    def __init__(self, model, normalize_mean, normalize_std, scale_inp=False, channels_last=False):
        self.model = model
        self.register_buffer("normalize_mean", normalize_mean)
        self.register_buffer("normalize_std", normalize_std)
        self.scale_inp = scale_inp
        self.channels_last = channels_last
        self.softmax = nn.Softmax(dim=1)

    def preprocess_input(self, x):
        if self.scale_inp:
            x = x / 255.0

        if self.channels_last:
            x = x.permute(0, 3, 1, 2)

        x = (x - self.normalize_mean) / self.normalize_std
        return x

    def forward(self, x):
        x = self.preprocess_input(x)
        x = self.model(x)
        x = self.softmax(x)
        return x

Wrap model with preprocessing and post-processing steps

# Define the normalization mean and standard deviation
mean_tensor = torch.tensor(norm_stats[0]).view(1, 3, 1, 1)
std_tensor = torch.tensor(norm_stats[1]).view(1, 3, 1, 1)

# Set the model to evaluation mode

# Wrap the model with preprocessing and post-processing steps
wrapped_model = InferenceWrapper(model, 
                                 scale_inp=False, # Scale input values from the rang [0,255] to [0,1]
                                 channels_last=False, # Have the model expect input in channels-last format

Prepare the Input Tensor

input_tensor = torch.randn(1, 3, 256, 256)

Export the Model to TorchScript

We can export the model using the torch.jit.trace() function. This function performs a single pass through the model and records all operations to create a static computation graph representing the model’s forward pass.

# Set a filename for the TorchScript module
torchscript_file_path = f"{checkpoint_dir}/{class_labels_path.stem.removesuffix('-classes')}-{checkpoint_path.stem}.pt"

traced_script_module = torch.jit.trace(wrapped_model.cpu(), input_tensor)

Performing Inference with the TorchScript Module

Now that we have our TorchScript module, it’s time to compare its performance with the original PyTorch model.

Load the TorchScript Module

We can load the saved TorchScript module using the torch.jit.load() function.

# Load the TorchScript module
traced_script_module = torch.jit.load(torchscript_file_path)

Select a Test Image

Let’s use the same test image and input size from the previous tutorial to compare the results with the PyTorch model.

test_img_name = "pexels-elina-volkova-16191659.jpg"
test_img_url = f"https://huggingface.co/datasets/cj-mills/pexel-hand-gesture-test-images/resolve/main/{test_img_name}"

download_file(test_img_url, './', False)

test_img = Image.open(test_img_name)

target_cls = "mute"

    "Test Image Size:": test_img.size, 
    "Target Class:": target_cls

Test Image Size: (637, 960)
Target Class: mute

Prepare the Test Image

# Set test image size
test_sz = 288

# Resize image without cropping to multiple of the max stride
input_img = resize_img(test_img.copy(), target_sz=test_sz)


    "Input Image Size:": input_img.size

Input Image Size: (288, 416)

Prepare the Input Tensor

# Convert the existing input image to a PyTorch tensor
input_tensor = torch.Tensor(np.array(input_img, dtype=np.float32)).permute(2,0,1)[None]/255

Compute the Predictions

Now, we can see how the TorchScript module compares with the PyTorch model.

# Run inference
# outputs = session.run(None, {"input": input_tensor_np})[0]
with torch.no_grad():
    outputs = traced_script_module(input_tensor)

# Get the highest confidence score
confidence_score = outputs.max()

# Get the class index with the highest confidence score and convert it to the class name
pred_class = class_names[outputs.argmax()]

# Display the image

# Store the prediction data in a Pandas Series for easy formatting
    "Input Size:": input_img.size,
    "Target Class:": target_cls,
    "Predicted Class:": pred_class,
    "Confidence Score:": f"{confidence_score*100:.2f}%"

Input Size: (288, 416)
Target Class: mute
Predicted Class: mute
Confidence Score: 99.99%

The model predictions should be virtually identical to the PyTorch model.

Google Colab Users
  1. Don’t forget to download the TorchScript module from the Colab Environment’s file browser. (tutorial link)


Congratulations on reaching the end of this tutorial! We previously fine-tuned a model from the timm library with fastai for hand gesture classification and now exported the underlying PyTorch model to TorchScript. With this conversion, you can deploy your model seamlessly across diverse platforms, ensuring optimized performance and enhanced portability for real-world applications.

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