Software Engineering Tips and Best Practices for Data Science


By Ahmed Besbes, AI Engineer // Blogger // Runner.

If you’re into knowledge science, then you definitely’re most likely aware of this workflow: you begin a venture by firing up a jupyter pocket book, then start writing your python code, operating complicated analyses, and even coaching a mannequin. As the pocket book file grows in dimension with all of the features, the courses, the plots, and the logs, you end up with an unlimited blob of monolithic code sitting up in a single place in entrance of you. If you’re fortunate, issues can go effectively. Good for you then!

However, jupyter notebooks cover some severe pitfalls which will flip your coding right into a residing hell. Let’s see how this occurs and then talk about coding greatest practices to forestall it.


The issues with Jupyter Notebook


supply: datascience.basis.

Quite usually, issues could not go the way in which you plan if you wish to take your jupyter prototyping to the following stage. Here are some conditions I encountered whereas utilizing this device, and that ought to sound acquainted to you:

  • With all of the objects (features or courses) outlined and instantiated in a single place,maintainability turns into actually arduous: even if you wish to make a small change to a perform, it’s important to find it someplace within the pocket book, repair it and rerun the code once more. You don’t need that, consider me. Wouldn’t or not it’s easy to have your logic and processing features separated in exterior scripts?
  • Because of its interactivity and prompt suggestions, jupyter notebooks push knowledge scientists to declare variables within the international namespace as an alternative of utilizing features. This is taken into account dangerous observe in python improvement as a result of it limits efficient code reuse. It additionally harms reproducibility as a result of your pocket book turns into a big state machine holding all of your variables. In this configuration, you’ll have to recollect which result’s cached and which isn’t, and you’ll additionally should count on different customers to observe your cell execution order.
  • The approach notebooks are formatted behind the scenes (JSON objects) makes code versioning troublesome. This is why I not often see knowledge scientists utilizing GIT to commit totally different variations of a pocket book or merging branches for particular options. Consequently, group collaboration turns into inefficient and clunky: group members begin exchanging code snippets and notebooks by way of e-mail or Slack, rolling again to a earlier model of the code is a nightmare, and the file group begins to be messy. Here’s what I generally see in tasks after two or three weeks of utilizing a jupyter pocket book with out correct versioning:
  • Jupyter notebooks are good for exploration and fast prototyping. They’re actually not designed for reusability or production-use.If you developed an information processing pipeline utilizing a jupyter pocket book, the perfect you possibly can state is that your code is simply working in your laptop computer or your VM in a linear synchronous vogue following the execution order of the cells. This doesn’t say something about the way in which your code would behave in a extra complicated setting with, for occasion, bigger enter datasets, different asynchronous parallel duties, or much less allotted sources.
    Notebooks are, actually, arduous to check since their habits is typically unpredictable.
  • As somebody who spends most of his time on VSCode profiting from highly effective extensions for code linting, model formatting, code structuring, autocompletion, and codebase search, I can’t assist however really feel a bit powerless when switching again to jupyter.
    Compared to VSCode, jupyter pocket book lacks extensions that implement coding greatest practices.

Ok, people, sufficient bashing for now. I truthfully love jupyter, and I believe it’s nice for what’s designed to do. You can positively use it to bootstrap small tasks or rapidly prototype concepts.

But in an effort to ship these concepts in an industrial vogue, it’s important to observe software program engineering rules that occur to get misplaced when knowledge scientists use notebooks. So let’s assessment a few of them collectively and see why they’re vital.


Tips to make your code nice once more


*These ideas have been compiled from totally different tasks, meetups I attended, and discussions with software program engineers and architects I’ve labored with prior to now. If you will have different ideas and concepts to share, be happy to deliver your contributions within the remark part, and I’ll credit score your reply within the submit.

*The following sections assume that we’re writing python scripts. Not notebooks.


1 – Clean your code


Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash.

One of crucial points of code high quality is readability. Clear and readable code is essential for collaboration and maintainability.

Here’s what could assist you will have a cleaner code:

  • Use significant variable names which might be descriptive and suggest sort. For instance, if you happen to’re declaring a boolean variable about an attribute (age, for instance) to test whether or not an individual is previous, you may make it each descriptive and type-informative through the use of 
    The similar goes for the way in which you declare your knowledge: make it explanatory.
# not good ... 
import pandas as pd
df = pd.read_csv(path)

# higher!
transactions = pd.read_csv(path)


  • Avoid abbreviations that nobody however you possibly can perceive and lengthy variable names that nobody can bear.
  • Don’t arduous code “magic numbers” straight in code. Define them in a variable so that everybody can perceive what they seek advice from.
# not good ...
optimizer = SGD(0.0045, momentum=True)

# higher !
learning_rate = 0.0045
optimizer = SGD(learning_rate, momentum=True)


  • Follow PEP8 conventions when naming your objects: for instance, features and strategies names are in lowercase and phrases are separated by an underscore, class names observe the UpperCaseCamelCase conference, constants are absolutely capitalized, and many others.
    Learn extra about these conventions right here.
  • Use indentation and whitespaces to let your code breathe. There are commonplace conventions comparable to “using 4 space for each indent”, “separate sections should have additional blank lines”… Since I by no means bear in mind these, I exploit a really good VSCode extension referred to as prettier that mechanically reformat my code when urgent ctrl+s.



2 – Make your code modular


When you begin constructing one thing that you simply really feel will be reused in the identical or different tasks, you’ll have to prepare your code into logical features and modules. This helps for higher group and maintainability.

For instance, you’re engaged on an NLP venture, and you could have totally different processing features to deal with textual content knowledge (tokenizing, stripping URLs, lemmatizing, and many others.). You can put all these models in a python module referred to as and import them from it. Your essential program will probably be approach lighter!

These are some good ideas I discovered about writing modular code:

  • DRY: Don’t Repeat Yourself. Generalize and consolidate your code each time doable.
  • Functions ought to do one factor. If a perform does a number of operations, it turns into tougher to generalize.
  • Abstract your logic in features however with out over-engineering it: there’s the slight risk that you simply’ll find yourself with too many modules. Use your judgment, and if you happen to’re inexperienced, take a look at well-liked GitHub repositories comparable to scikit-learn and try their coding model.


3 – Refactor your code


Refactoring goals at reorganizing the inner construction of the code with out altering its functionalities. It’s often accomplished on a working (however nonetheless not absolutely organized) model of the code. It helps de-duplicate features, reorganize the file construction, and add extra abstraction.

To study extra about python refactoring, this text is a good useful resource.


4 – Make your code environment friendly


Writing environment friendly code that executes quick and consumes much less reminiscence and storage is one other vital talent in software program improvement.

Writing environment friendly code takes years of expertise, however listed here are some fast ideas which will assist your discover out in case your code is operating gradual and how you can increase it:

  • Before operating something, test the complexity of your algorithm to judge its execution time
  • Check the doable bottlenecks of your script by inspecting the operating time of each operation
  • Avoid for-loops as a lot as doable and vectorize your operations, particularly if you happen to’re utilizing libraries comparable to NumPy or pandas
  • Leverage the CPU cores of your machine through the use of multiprocessing


5 – Use GIT or another model management system


In my private expertise, utilizing GIT + Github helped me enhance my coding abilities and higher manage my tasks. Since I used it whereas collaborating with associates and/or colleagues, it made me persist with requirements I didn’t obey to prior to now.

Source: freecodecamp.

There are plenty of advantages to utilizing a model management system, be it in knowledge science or software program improvement.

  • Keeping observe of your modifications
  • Rolling again to any earlier model of the code
  • Efficient collaboration between group members by way of merge and pull requests
  • Increase of code high quality
  • Code assessment
  • Assigning duties to group members and monitoring their progress over time

Platforms comparable to Github or Gitlab go even additional and present, amongst different issues, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery hooks to mechanically construct and deploy your tasks.

If you’re new to Git, then I like to recommend taking a look at this tutorial. Or you possibly can take a look at this cheat sheet:

supply: Atlassian.

If you need to particularly find out about how you can model machine studying fashions, then take a look at this article.


6 – Test your code


If you’re constructing an information pipeline that executes a collection of operations, a technique to ensure it performs in line with what it’s designed to do, is to put in writing exams that test an anticipated habits.

Tests will be so simple as checking an output form or an anticipated worth returned by a perform.

Writing exams for your features and modules brings many advantages:

  • It improves the steadiness of the code and makes errors simpler to identify
  • It prevents sudden outputs
  • It helps to detect edge circumstances
  • It prevents from pushing damaged code to manufacturing


7 – Use logging


Once the primary model of your code is operating, you positively need to monitor it at each step to grasp what occurs, observe the progress, or spot defective habits. Here’s the place you should use logging.

Here are some recommendations on effectively utilizing logging:

  • Use totally different ranges (debug, information, warning) relying on the character of the message you need to log
  • Provide helpful info within the logs to assist resolve the associated points.
import logging

logging.debug('This message ought to go to the log file')
logging.information('So ought to this')
logging.warning('And this, too')


supply: realpython.


Long gone are the times when knowledge scientists discovered their approach round by producing stories and jupyter notebooks that didn’t talk in any approach with the corporate techniques and infrastructure. Nowadays, knowledge scientists begin producing testable and runnable code that seamlessly integrates with the IT techniques. Following software program engineering greatest practices turns into, due to this fact, a should.

Original. Reposted with permission.


Bio: Ahmed Besbesis an information scientist residing in France working throughout many industries, comparable to monetary companies, media, and the general public sector. Part of Ahmed’s work consists of crafting, constructing, and deploying AI purposes to reply enterprise points. Ahmed additionally blogs about technical subjects, comparable to deep studying.



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