# 2.1. Data Manipulation¶

In order to get anything done, we must have some way to manipulate data.
Generally, there are two important things we need to do with data: (i)
acquire them and (ii) process them once they are inside the computer.
There is no point in acquiring data if we do not even know how to store
it, so let us get our hands dirty first by playing with synthetic data.
We will start by introducing the \(n\)-dimensional array
(`ndarray`

), MXNet’s primary tool for storing and transforming data.
In MXNet, `ndarray`

is a class and we also call its instance an
`ndarray`

for brevity.

If you have worked with NumPy, perhaps the most widely-used scientific
computing package in Python, then you are ready to fly. In short, we
designed MXNet’s `ndarray`

to be an extension to NumPy’s `ndarray`

with a few key advantages. First, MXNet’s `ndarray`

supports
asynchronous computation on CPU, GPU, and distributed cloud
architectures, whereas the latter only supports CPU computation. Second,
MXNet’s `ndarray`

supports automatic differentiation. These properties
make MXNet’s `ndarray`

indispensable for deep learning. Throughout the
book, the term `ndarray`

refers to MXNet’s `ndarray`

unless
otherwise stated.

## 2.1.1. Getting Started¶

Throughout this chapter, our aim is to get you up and running, equipping you with the the basic math and numerical computing tools that you will be mastering throughout the course of the book. Do not worry if you are not completely comfortable with all of the mathematical concepts or library functions. In the following sections we will revisit the same material in the context practical examples. On the other hand, if you already have some background and want to go deeper into the mathematical content, just skip this section.

To start, we import the `np`

(`numpy`

) and `npx`

(`numpy_extension`

) modules from MXNet. Here, the `np`

module
includes the same functions supported by NumPy, while the `npx`

module
contains a set of extensions developed to empower deep learning within a
NumPy-like environment. When using `ndarray`

, we almost always invoke
the `set_np`

function: this is for compatibility of `ndarray`

processing by other components of MXNet.

```
from mxnet import np, npx
npx.set_np()
```

An `ndarray`

represents an array of numerical values, which are
possibly multi-dimensional. With one axis, an `ndarray`

corresponds
(in math) to a *vector*. With two axes, an `ndarray`

corresponds to a
*matrix*. Arrays with more than two axes do not have special
mathematical names—we simply call them *tensors*.

To start, we can use `arange`

to create a row vector `x`

containing
the first \(12\) integers starting with \(0\), though they are
created as floats by default. Each of the values in an `ndarray`

is
called an *element* of the `ndarray`

. For instance, there are
\(12\) elements in the `ndarray`

`x`

. Unless otherwise
specified, a new `ndarray`

will be stored in main memory and
designated for CPU-based computation.

```
x = np.arange(12)
x
```

```
array([ 0., 1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., 7., 8., 9., 10., 11.])
```

We can access an `ndarray`

’s *shape* (the length along each axis) by
inspecting its `shape`

property.

```
x.shape
```

```
(12,)
```

If we just want to know the total number of elements in an `ndarray`

,
i.e., the product of all of the shape elements, we can inspect its
`size`

property. Because we are dealing with a vector here, the single
element of its `shape`

is identical to its `size`

.

```
x.size
```

```
12
```

To change the shape of an `ndarray`

without altering either the number
of elements or their values, we can invoke the `reshape`

function. For
example, we can transform our `ndarray`

, `x`

, from a row vector with
shape (\(12\),) to a matrix of shape (\(3\), \(4\)). This
new `ndarray`

contains the exact same values, and treats such values
as a matrix organized as \(3\) rows and \(4\) columns. To
reiterate, although the shape has changed, the elements in `x`

have
not. Consequently, the `size`

remains the same.

```
x = x.reshape(3, 4)
x
```

```
array([[ 0., 1., 2., 3.],
[ 4., 5., 6., 7.],
[ 8., 9., 10., 11.]])
```

Reshaping by manually specifying each of the dimensions can sometimes
get annoying. For instance, if our target shape is a matrix with shape
(height, width), after we know the width, the height is given
implicitly. Why should we have to perform the division ourselves? In the
example above, to get a matrix with \(3\) rows, we specified both
that it should have \(3\) rows and \(4\) columns. Fortunately,
`ndarray`

can automatically work out one dimension given the rest. We
invoke this capability by placing `-1`

for the dimension that we would
like `ndarray`

to automatically infer. In our case, instead of calling
`x.reshape(3, 4)`

, we could have equivalently called
`x.reshape(-1, 4)`

or `x.reshape(3, -1)`

.

The `empty`

method grabs a chunk of memory and hands us back a matrix
without bothering to change the value of any of its entries. This is
remarkably efficient but we must be careful because the entries might
take arbitrary values, including very big ones!

```
np.empty((3, 4))
```

```
array([[ 2.6958742e+12, 4.5777618e-41, -6.4351480e-06, 3.0621174e-41],
[ 0.0000000e+00, 0.0000000e+00, 0.0000000e+00, 0.0000000e+00],
[ 0.0000000e+00, 0.0000000e+00, 0.0000000e+00, 0.0000000e+00]])
```

Typically, we will want our matrices initialized either with ones,
zeros, some known constants, or numbers randomly sampled from a known
distribution. Perhaps most often, we want an array of all zeros. To
create an `ndarray`

representing a tensor with all elements set to
\(0\) and a shape of (\(2\), \(3\), \(4\)) we can invoke

```
np.zeros((2, 3, 4))
```

```
array([[[0., 0., 0., 0.],
[0., 0., 0., 0.],
[0., 0., 0., 0.]],
[[0., 0., 0., 0.],
[0., 0., 0., 0.],
[0., 0., 0., 0.]]])
```

We can create tensors with each element set to 1 as follows:

```
np.ones((2, 3, 4))
```

```
array([[[1., 1., 1., 1.],
[1., 1., 1., 1.],
[1., 1., 1., 1.]],
[[1., 1., 1., 1.],
[1., 1., 1., 1.],
[1., 1., 1., 1.]]])
```

In some cases, we will want to randomly sample the values of all the
elements in an `ndarray`

according to some known probability
distribution. One common case is when we construct an array to serve as
a parameter in a neural network. The following snippet creates an
`ndarray`

with shape (\(3\), \(4\)). Each of its elements is
randomly sampled from a standard Gaussian (normal) distribution with a
mean of \(0\) and a standard deviation of \(1\).

```
np.random.normal(0, 1, size=(3, 4))
```

```
array([[ 2.2122064 , 0.7740038 , 1.0434405 , 1.1839255 ],
[ 1.8917114 , -1.2347414 , -1.771029 , -0.45138445],
[ 0.57938355, -1.856082 , -1.9768796 , -0.20801921]])
```

We can also specify the value of each element in the desired `ndarray`

by supplying a Python list containing the numerical values.

```
np.array([[2, 1, 4, 3], [1, 2, 3, 4], [4, 3, 2, 1]])
```

```
array([[2., 1., 4., 3.],
[1., 2., 3., 4.],
[4., 3., 2., 1.]])
```

## 2.1.2. Operations¶

This book is not about Web development—it is not enough to just read and
write values. We want to perform mathematical operations on those
arrays. Some of the simplest and most useful operations are the
*elementwise* operations. These apply a standard scalar operation to
each element of an array. For functions that take two arrays as inputs,
elementwise operations apply some standard binary operator on each pair
of corresponding elements from the two arrays. We can create an
elementwise function from any function that maps from a scalar to a
scalar.

In math notation, we would denote such a *unary* scalar operator (taking
one input) by the signature \(f: \mathbb{R} \rightarrow \mathbb{R}\)
and a *binary* scalar operator (taking two inputs) by the signature
\(f: \mathbb{R}, \mathbb{R} \rightarrow \mathbb{R}\). Given any two
vectors \(\mathbf{u}\) and \(\mathbf{v}\) *of the same shape*,
and a binary operator \(f\), we can produce a vector
\(\mathbf{c} = F(\mathbf{u},\mathbf{v})\) by setting
\(c_i \gets f(u_i, v_i)\) for all \(i\), where \(c_i, u_i\),
and \(v_i\) are the \(i^\mathrm{th}\) elements of vectors
\(\mathbf{c}, \mathbf{u}\), and \(\mathbf{v}\). Here, we
produced the vector-valued
\(F: \mathbb{R}^d, \mathbb{R}^d \rightarrow \mathbb{R}^d\) by
*lifting* the scalar function to an elementwise vector operation.

In MXNet, the common standard arithmetic operators (`+`

, `-`

, `*`

,
`/`

, and `**`

) have all been *lifted* to elementwise operations for
any identically-shaped tensors of arbitrary shape. We can call
elementwise operations on any two tensors of the same shape. In the
following example, we use commas to formulate a \(5\)-element tuple,
where each element is the result of an elementwise operation.

```
x = np.array([1, 2, 4, 8])
y = np.array([2, 2, 2, 2])
x + y, x - y, x * y, x / y, x ** y # The ** operator is exponentiation
```

```
(array([ 3., 4., 6., 10.]),
array([-1., 0., 2., 6.]),
array([ 2., 4., 8., 16.]),
array([0.5, 1. , 2. , 4. ]),
array([ 1., 4., 16., 64.]))
```

Many more operations can be applied elementwise, including unary operators like exponentiation.

```
np.exp(x)
```

```
array([2.7182817e+00, 7.3890562e+00, 5.4598148e+01, 2.9809580e+03])
```

In addition to elementwise computations, we can also perform linear algebra operations, including vector dot products and matrix multiplication. We will explain the crucial bits of linear algebra (with no assumed prior knowledge) in Section 2.4.

We can also *concatenate* multiple `ndarray`

s together, stacking
them end-to-end to form a larger `ndarray`

. We just need to provide a
list of `ndarray`

s and tell the system along which axis to
concatenate. The example below shows what happens when we concatenate
two matrices along rows (axis \(0\), the first element of the shape)
vs. columns (axis \(1\), the second element of the shape). We can
see that, the first output `ndarray`

‘s axis-\(0\) length
(\(6\)) is the sum of the two input `ndarray`

s’ axis-\(0\)
lengths (\(3 + 3\)); while the second output `ndarray`

‘s
axis-\(1\) length (\(8\)) is the sum of the two input
`ndarray`

s’ axis-\(1\) lengths (\(4 + 4\)).

```
x = np.arange(12).reshape(3, 4)
y = np.array([[2, 1, 4, 3], [1, 2, 3, 4], [4, 3, 2, 1]])
np.concatenate([x, y], axis=0), np.concatenate([x, y], axis=1)
```

```
(array([[ 0., 1., 2., 3.],
[ 4., 5., 6., 7.],
[ 8., 9., 10., 11.],
[ 2., 1., 4., 3.],
[ 1., 2., 3., 4.],
[ 4., 3., 2., 1.]]),
array([[ 0., 1., 2., 3., 2., 1., 4., 3.],
[ 4., 5., 6., 7., 1., 2., 3., 4.],
[ 8., 9., 10., 11., 4., 3., 2., 1.]]))
```

Sometimes, we want to construct a binary `ndarray`

via *logical
statements*. Take `x == y`

as an example. For each position, if `x`

and `y`

are equal at that position, the corresponding entry in the new
`ndarray`

takes a value of \(1\), meaning that the logical
statement `x == y`

is true at that position; otherwise that position
takes \(0\).

```
x == y
```

```
array([[0., 1., 0., 1.],
[0., 0., 0., 0.],
[0., 0., 0., 0.]])
```

Summing all the elements in the `ndarray`

yields an `ndarray`

with
only one element.

```
x.sum()
```

```
array(66.)
```

For stylistic convenience, we can write `x.sum()`

as `np.sum(x)`

.

## 2.1.3. Broadcasting Mechanism¶

In the above section, we saw how to perform elementwise operations on
two `ndarray`

s of the same shape. Under certain conditions, even
when shapes differ, we can still perform elementwise operations by
invoking the *broadcasting mechanism*. These mechanisms work in the
following way: First, expand one or both arrays by copying elements
appropriately so that after this transformation, the two `ndarray`

s
have the same shape. Second, carry out the elementwise operations on the
resulting arrays.

In most cases, we broadcast along an axis where an array initially only has length \(1\), such as in the following example:

```
a = np.arange(3).reshape(3, 1)
b = np.arange(2).reshape(1, 2)
a, b
```

```
(array([[0.],
[1.],
[2.]]), array([[0., 1.]]))
```

Since `a`

and `b`

are \(3\times1\) and \(1\times2\) matrices
respectively, their shapes do not match up if we want to add them. We
*broadcast* the entries of both matrices into a larger \(3\times2\)
matrix as follows: for matrix `a`

it replicates the columns and for
matrix `b`

it replicates the rows before adding up both elementwise.

```
a + b
```

```
array([[0., 1.],
[1., 2.],
[2., 3.]])
```

## 2.1.4. Indexing and Slicing¶

Just as in any other Python array, elements in an `ndarray`

can be
accessed by index. As in any Python array, the first element has index
\(0\) and ranges are specified to include the first but *before* the
last element.

By this logic, `[-1]`

selects the last element and `[1:3]`

selects
the second and the third elements. Let us try this out and compare the
outputs.

```
x[-1], x[1:3]
```

```
(array([ 8., 9., 10., 11.]), array([[ 4., 5., 6., 7.],
[ 8., 9., 10., 11.]]))
```

Beyond reading, we can also write elements of a matrix by specifying indices.

```
x[1, 2] = 9
x
```

```
array([[ 0., 1., 2., 3.],
[ 4., 5., 9., 7.],
[ 8., 9., 10., 11.]])
```

If we want to assign multiple elements the same value, we simply index
all of them and then assign them the value. For instance, `[0:2, :]`

accesses the first and second rows, where `:`

takes all the elements
along axis \(1\) (column). While we discussed indexing for matrices,
this obviously also works for vectors and for tensors of more than
\(2\) dimensions.

```
x[0:2, :] = 12
x
```

```
array([[12., 12., 12., 12.],
[12., 12., 12., 12.],
[ 8., 9., 10., 11.]])
```

## 2.1.5. Saving Memory¶

In the previous example, every time we ran an operation, we allocated
new memory to host its results. For example, if we write `y = x + y`

,
we will dereference the `ndarray`

that `y`

used to point to and
instead point `y`

at the newly allocated memory. In the following
example, we demonstrate this with Python’s `id()`

function, which
gives us the exact address of the referenced object in memory. After
running `y = y + x`

, we will find that `id(y)`

points to a different
location. That is because Python first evaluates `y + x`

, allocating
new memory for the result and then redirects `y`

to point at this new
location in memory.

```
before = id(y)
y = y + x
id(y) == before
```

```
False
```

This might be undesirable for two reasons. First, we do not want to run
around allocating memory unnecessarily all the time. In machine
learning, we might have hundreds of megabytes of parameters and update
all of them multiple times per second. Typically, we will want to
perform these updates *in place*. Second, we might point at the same
parameters from multiple variables. If we do not update in place, this
could cause that discarded memory is not released, and make it possible
for parts of our code to inadvertently reference stale parameters.

Fortunately, performing in-place operations in MXNet is easy. We can
assign the result of an operation to a previously allocated array with
slice notation, e.g., `y[:] = <expression>`

. To illustrate this
concept, we first create a new matrix `z`

with the same shape as
another `y`

, using `zeros_like`

to allocate a block of \(0\)
entries.

```
z = np.zeros_like(y)
print('id(z):', id(z))
z[:] = x + y
print('id(z):', id(z))
```

```
id(z): 140305609190848
id(z): 140305609190848
```

If the value of `x`

is not reused in subsequent computations, we can
also use `x[:] = x + y`

or `x += y`

to reduce the memory overhead of
the operation.

```
before = id(x)
x += y
id(x) == before
```

```
True
```

## 2.1.6. Conversion to Other Python Objects¶

Converting an MXNet’s `ndarray`

to an object in the NumPy package of
Python, or vice versa, is easy. The converted result does not share
memory. This minor inconvenience is actually quite important: when you
perform operations on the CPU or on GPUs, you do not want MXNet to halt
computation, waiting to see whether the NumPy package of Python might
want to be doing something else with the same chunk of memory. The
`array`

and `asnumpy`

functions do the trick.

```
a = x.asnumpy()
b = np.array(a)
type(a), type(b)
```

```
(numpy.ndarray, mxnet.numpy.ndarray)
```

To convert a size-\(1\) `ndarray`

to a Python scalar, we can
invoke the `item`

function or Python’s built-in functions.

```
a = np.array([3.5])
a, a.item(), float(a), int(a)
```

```
(array([3.5]), 3.5, 3.5, 3)
```

## 2.1.7. Summary¶

MXNet’s

`ndarray`

is an extension to NumPy’s`ndarray`

with a few key advantages that make the former indispensable for deep learning.MXNet’s

`ndarray`

provides a variety of functionalities such as basic mathematics operations, broadcasting, indexing, slicing, memory saving, and conversion to other Python objects.

## 2.1.8. Exercises¶

Run the code in this section. Change the conditional statement

`x == y`

in this section to`x < y`

or`x > y`

, and then see what kind of`ndarray`

you can get.Replace the two

`ndarray`

s that operate by element in the broadcasting mechanism with other shapes, e.g., three dimensional tensors. Is the result the same as expected?