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Multimodal deep learning with DocArray

DocArray is a library for representing, sending, and storing multimodal data that can be used for a variety of different use cases.

Here we will focus on a workflow familiar to many ML engineers: Building and training a model, and then serving it to users.

This document contains two parts:

  1. Representing: We will use DocArray to represent multimodal data while building and training a PyTorch model. We will see how DocArray can help to organize and group your modalities and tensors and make clear what methods to expect as inputs and return as outputs.
  2. Sending: We will take the model that we built and trained in part one, and serve it using FastAPI. We will see how DocArray narrows the gap between model development and model deployment, and how the same data models can be reused in both contexts. That part will be very short, but that's the point!

So without further ado, let's dive into it!

1. Representing: Build and train a PyTorch model

We will train a CLIP-like model on a dataset composed of text-image pairs. The goal is to obtain a model that can understand both text and images and project them into a common embedding space.

We train the CLIP-like model on the Flickr8k dataset. To run this, you need to download and unzip the data into the same folder as your code.


In this tutorial we do not aim to reproduce any CLIP results (our dataset is way too small anyway), but rather we want to show how DocArray data structures help researchers and practitioners write beautiful and pythonic multimodal PyTorch code.

#!pip install "docarray[torch,image]"
#!pip install torchvision
#!pip install transformers
#!pip install fastapi
#!pip install pandas
import itertools
from typing import Callable, Dict, List, Optional
import docarray
import torch
import torchvision
from torch import nn
from transformers import AutoTokenizer, DistilBertModel
DEVICE = "cuda:0"  # change to your favourite device

Create documents for handling multimodal data

The first thing we want to achieve when using DocArray is to clearly model our data so that we never get confused about which tensors represent what.

To do that we are using a concept that is at the core of DocArray: The document -- a collection of multimodal data. The BaseDoc class allows users to define their own (nested, multimodal) document schema to represent any kind of complex data.

Let's start by defining a few documents to handle the different modalities that we will use during our training:

from docarray import BaseDoc, DocList
from docarray.typing import TorchTensor, ImageUrl

Let's first create a document for our Text modality. It will contain a number of Tokens, which we also define:

from docarray.documents import TextDoc as BaseText

class Tokens(BaseDoc):
    input_ids: TorchTensor[48]
    attention_mask: TorchTensor
class Text(BaseText):
    tokens: Optional[Tokens]

Notice the TorchTensor type. It is a thin wrapper around torch.Tensor that can be used like any other Torch tensor, but also enables additional features. One such feature is shape parametrization (TorchTensor[48]), which lets you hint and even enforce the desired shape of any tensor!

To represent our image data, we use DocArray's ImageDoc:

from docarray.documents import ImageDoc

Under the hood, an ImageDoc looks something like this (with the only main difference that it can take tensors from any supported ML framework):

class ImageDoc(BaseDoc):
    url: Optional[ImageUrl]
    tensor: Optional[TorchTesor]
    embedding: Optional[TorchTensor]

Actually, the BaseText above also already includes tensor, url and embedding fields, so we can use those on our Text document as well.

The final document used for training here is the PairTextImage, which simply combines the Text and Image modalities:

class PairTextImage(BaseDoc):
    text: TextDoc
    image: ImageDoc

You then need to forward declare the following types. This will allow the objects to be properly pickled and unpickled.

This will be unnecessary once this issue is resolved.

from docarray import DocVec

Create the dataset

In this section we will create a multimodal pytorch dataset around the Flick8k dataset using DocArray.

We will use DocArray's data loading functionality to load the data and use Torchvision and Transformers to preprocess the data before feeding it to our deep learning model:

from import DataLoader, Dataset
class VisionPreprocess:
    def __init__(self):
        self.transform = torchvision.transforms.Compose(
                    mean=[0.485, 0.456, 0.406], std=[0.229, 0.224, 0.225]

    def __call__(self, image: Image) -> None:
        image.tensor = self.transform(image.url.load())
class TextPreprocess:
    def __init__(self):
        self.tokenizer = AutoTokenizer.from_pretrained("distilbert-base-cased")

    def __call__(self, text: Text) -> None:
        assert isinstance(text, Text)
        text.tokens = Tokens(
                text.text, padding="max_length", truncation=True, max_length=48

VisionPreprocess and TextPreprocess implement standard preprocessing steps for images and text, nothing special here.

import pandas as pd

def get_flickr8k_da(file: str = "captions.txt", N: Optional[int] = None):
    df = pd.read_csv(file, nrows=N)
    da = DocList[PairTextImage](
        PairTextImage(text=Text(text=i.caption), image=Image(url=f"Images/{i.image}"))
        for i in df.itertuples()
    return da

In the get_flickr8k_da method we process the Flickr8k dataset into a DocList.

Now let's instantiate this dataset using the MultiModalDataset class. The constructor takes in the da and a dictionary of preprocessing transformations:

da = get_flickr8k_da()
preprocessing = {"image": VisionPreprocess(), "text": TextPreprocess()}
from import MultiModalDataset

dataset = MultiModalDataset[PairTextImage](da=da, preprocessing=preprocessing)
loader = DataLoader(

Create the Pytorch model that works on DocArray

In this section we will create two encoders, one per modality (Text and Image). These encoders are normal PyTorch nn.Modules. The only difference is that they operate on DocList rather that on torch.Tensor:

class TextEncoder(nn.Module):
    def __init__(self):
        self.bert = DistilBertModel.from_pretrained("distilbert-base-uncased")

    def forward(self, texts: DocList[TextDoc]) -> TorchTensor:
        last_hidden_state = self.bert(
            input_ids=texts.tokens.input_ids, attention_mask=texts.tokens.attention_mask

        return self._mean_pool(last_hidden_state, texts.tokens.attention_mask)

    def _mean_pool(
        self, last_hidden_state: TorchTensor, attention_mask: TorchTensor
    ) -> TorchTensor:
        masked_output = last_hidden_state * attention_mask.unsqueeze(-1)
        return masked_output.sum(dim=1) / attention_mask.sum(-1, keepdim=True)

The TextEncoder takes a DocList of TextDocs as input, and returns an embedding TorchTensor as output. DocList can be seen as a list of TextDoc documents, and the encoder will treat it as one batch.

class VisionEncoder(nn.Module):
    def __init__(self):
        self.backbone = torchvision.models.resnet18(pretrained=True)
        self.linear = nn.LazyLinear(out_features=768)

    def forward(self, images: DocList[ImageDoc]) -> TorchTensor:
        x = self.backbone(images.tensor)
        return self.linear(x)

Similarly, the VisionEncoder also takes a DocList of ImageDocs as input, and returns an embedding TorchTensor as output. However, it operates on the tensor attribute of each document.

Now we can instantiate our encoders:

vision_encoder = VisionEncoder().to(DEVICE)
text_encoder = TextEncoder().to(DEVICE)

As you can see, DocArray helps us clearly convey what data is expected as input and output for each method, all through Python type hints.

Train the model in a contrastive way between Text and Image (CLIP)

Now that we have defined our dataloader and our models, we can train the two encoders is a contrastive way. The goal is to match the representation of the text and the image for each pair in the dataset.

optim = torch.optim.Adam(
    itertools.chain(vision_encoder.parameters(), text_encoder.parameters()), lr=3e-4
def cosine_sim(x_mat: TorchTensor, y_mat: TorchTensor) -> TorchTensor:
    a_n, b_n = x_mat.norm(dim=1)[:, None], y_mat.norm(dim=1)[:, None]
    a_norm = x_mat / torch.clamp(a_n, min=1e-7)
    b_norm = y_mat / torch.clamp(b_n, min=1e-7)
    return, b_norm.transpose(0, 1)).squeeze()
def clip_loss(image: DocList[Image], text: DocList[Text]) -> TorchTensor:
    sims = cosine_sim(image.embedding, text.embedding)
    return torch.norm(sims - torch.eye(sims.shape[0], device=DEVICE))

In the type hints of cosine_sim and clip_loss you can again notice that we can treat a TorchTensor like any other torch.Tensor, and how we can make explicit what kind of data and data modalities the different functions expect.

num_epoch = 1  # here you should do more epochs to really learn something

One thing to notice here is that our dataloader does not return a torch.Tensor but a DocList[PairTextImage], which is exactly what our model can operate on.

So let's write a training loop and train our encoders:

from tqdm import tqdm

with torch.autocast(device_type="cuda", dtype=torch.float16):
    for epoch in range(num_epoch):
        for i, batch in tqdm(
            enumerate(loader), total=len(loader), desc=f"Epoch {epoch}"
    # DocList can be moved to device

            # FORWARD PASS:
            batch.image.embedding = vision_encoder(batch.image)
            batch.text.embedding = text_encoder(batch.text)
            loss = clip_loss(batch.image, batch.text)
            if i % 30 == 0:
                print(f"{i+epoch} steps , loss : {loss}")

Here we see how we can immediately group the output of each encoder with the document (and modality) it belong to.

And with all that, we've successfully trained a CLIP-like model without ever getting confused about the meaning of any tensors!

2. Sending: Serve the model using FastAPI

Now that we have a trained CLIP model, let's see how we can serve this model with a REST API by reusing most of the code above.

Let's use FastAPI for that!

FastAPI is powerful because it allows you to define your Rest API data schema in pure Python. And DocArray is fully compatible with FastAPI and Pydantic, which means that as long as you have a function that takes a document as input, FastAPI will be able to automatically translate it into a fully fledged API with documentation, OpenAPI specification and more:

from fastapi import FastAPI
from docarray.base_doc import DocumentResponse
app = FastAPI()
vision_encoder = vision_encoder.eval()
text_encoder = text_encoder.eval()

Now all we need to do is to tell FastAPI what methods it should use to serve the model:

text_preprocess = TextPreprocess()"/embed_text/", response_model=Text, response_class=DocumentResponse)
async def embed_text(doc: Text) -> Text:
    with torch.autocast(device_type="cuda", dtype=torch.float16):
        with torch.inference_mode():
            da = DocList[Text]([doc], tensor_type=TorchTensor).to_doc_vec()
            doc.embedding = text_encoder(da)[0].to('cpu')
    return doc

You can see that our earlier definition of the Text document now doubles as the API schema for the /embed_text endpoint.

With this running, we can query our model over the network:

from httpx import AsyncClient
text_input = Text(text='a picture of a rainbow')
async with AsyncClient(
) as ac:
    response = await"/embed_text/", data=text_input.json())
doc_resp = Text.parse_raw(response.content.decode())

And we're done! You have trained and served a multimodal ML model, with zero headaches and a lot of DocArray!