Torch-rnn: Mac Install


Update! For El Capitan and users of newer version of OS X, you may run into issues installing Torch or Lua packages. A fix is included now.

There have been many recent examples of neural networks making interesting content after the algorithm has been fed input data and “learned” about it. Many of these, Google’s Deep Dream being the most well-covered, use and generate images, but what about text? This tutorial will show you how to install Torch-rnn, a set of recurrent neural network tools for character-based (ie: single letter) learning and output – it’s written by Justin Johnson, who deserves a huge “thanks!” for this tool.

The details about how all this works are complex and quite technical, but in short we train our neural network character-by-character, instead of with words like a Markov chain might. It learns what letters are most likely to come after others, and the text is generated the same way. One might think this would output random character soup, but the results are startlingly coherent, even more so than more traditional Markov output.

Torch-rnn is built on Torch, a set of scientific computing tools for the programming language Lua, which lets us take advantage of the GPU, using CUDA or OpenCL to accelerate the training process. Training can take a very long time, especially with large data sets, so the GPU acceleration is a big plus.

You can read way more info on how this all works here:

STEP 1: Install Torch
First, we have to install Torch for our system. (This section via this Torch install tutorial.)

A few notes before we start:

  • Installing Torch will also install Lua and luarocks  (the Lua package manager) so no need to do that separately.
  • If Lua already installed, you may run into some problems (I’m not sure how to fix that, sorry!)
  • We’ll be doing everything in Terminal – if you’ve never used the command-line, it would be good to learn a bit more about how that works before attempting this install.
  • If you’re running a newer OS such as El Capitan, you may run into problems installing Torch, or installing packages afterwards. If that’s the case, you can follow these instructions.

In Terminal, go to your user’s home directory* and run the following commands one at a time:

This downloads the Torch repository and installs it with Lua and some core packages that are required. This may take a few minutes.

We need to add Torch to the PATH  variable so it can be found by our system. Easily open your .bash_profile  file (which is normally hidden) in a text editor using this command:

And add these two lines at very bottom:

…replacing your username in the path. Save and close, then restart Terminal. When done, test it with the command:

Which should give you the Torch prompt. Use Control-c twice to exit, or type os.exit().

* You can install Torch anywhere you like, but you’ll have to update all the paths in this tutorial to your install location.

STEP 2: Install CUDA Support
Note: this step is only possible if your computer has an NVIDIA graphics card!

We can leverage the GPU of our computer to make the training process much faster. This step is optional, but suggested.

Download the CUDA tools with the network install – this is way faster, since it’s a 300kb download instead of 1GB:

Run installer; when done, we have to update PATH  variable in the .bash_profile  file like we did in the last step. Open the file and add these three lines (you may need to change CUDA-<version number>  depending on which you install – Kevin points out that CUDA 8 may cause errors):

You may also need to modify your System Preferences under Energy Saver:

  • Uncheck Automatic Graphics Switch.
  • Set Computer Sleep to “Never”.

Restart Terminal and test the install by running this command:

You should get something like:

There are further tests in the NVIDIA docs, if you want to try them, but they’re not necessary for our purposes. If you want to go deeper into this process, you can follow these instructions from NVIDIA.

STEP 3: Install HDF5 Library for Lua
Torch-rnn comes with a preprocessor script, written in Python, that prepares our text for training. It will save our sample into an h5 and json file, but requires the HDF5 library to be installed.

First, install HDF5 using Homebrew:

(If you have issues with the install or in the next step, Joshua suggests adding the the flag --with-mpi to the Homebrew command above, which may help. If that doesn’t work, Charles has a suggested fix. If you get an error that says Unsupported HDF5 version: 1.10.0 , you can try Tom’s suggestion.)

Move to the Torch folder inside your user home directory (ie: /Users/<your user name>/torch/). The following commands download the Torch-specific HDF5 implementation and installs them:

If you haven’t used git or Github before, as Luke points out in the comments, you might get an SSH key error. You can get a key, or just download the repository manually from here.

STEP 4: Install HDF5 Library for Python
We also need to install HDF5 support for Python. You can do this using Pip:

You may get a bunch of warnings, but that’s ok. Test that it works by importing the library:

If it imports without error, you’re good!

STEP 5: Install Torch-rnn
Now that we’ve prepared our computer with all the required libraries, it’s time to finally install Torch-rnn!

  • Download the ZIP file from the project’s GitHub repository.
  • Unzip it and rename to torch-rnn.
  • Move the Torch-rnn folder to your Torch install folder inside your user home directory (ie: /Users/<your user name>/torch/torch-rnn )
  • (You can also do this by cloning the repo, but if you know how to do that, you probably don’t need the instructions in this step 😄)

STEP 6: Prepare Your Data
We’re ready to prepare some data! Torch-rnn comes with a sample input file (all the writings of Shakespeare) that you can use to test everything. Of course, you can also use your own data; just combine everything into a single text file.

In the Terminal, go to your Torch-rnn folder and run the preprocessor script:

You should get a response that looks something like this:

This will save two files to the data directory (though you can save them anywhere): an h5 and json file that we’ll use to train our system.

STEP 7: Train
The next step will take at least an hour, perhaps considerably longer, depending on your computer and your data set. But if you’re ready, let’s train our network! In the Torch-rnn folder and run the training script (changing the arguments if you’ve used a different data source or saved them elsewhere):

The train.lua  script uses CUDA by default, so if you don’t have that installed or available, you’ll need to disable it and run CPU-only using the flag -gpu -1. Lots more training and output options are available here.

It should spit out something like:

Your computer will get really hot and it will take a long time – the default is 50 epochs. You can see how long it took by adding time in front of the training command:

If you have a really small corpus (under 2MB of text) you may want to try adding the following flags:

Setting -batch_size somewhere between 1-10 should give better results with the output.

STEP 8: Generate Some Output
Getting output from our neural network is considerably easier than the previous steps (whew!). Just run the following command:

A few notes:

  • The -checkpoint  argument is to a t7  checkpoint file created during training. You should use the one with the largest number, since that will be the latest one created. Note: running training on another data set will overwrite this file!
  • The -length argument is the number of characters to output.
  • This command also runs with CUDA by default, and can be disabled the same way as the training command.
  • Results are printed to the console, though it would be easy to pipe it to a file instead:
  • Lots of other options here.

STEP 8A: “Temperature”
Changing the temperature flag will make the most difference in your network’s output. It changes the novelty and noise is the system, creating dramatically different output. The -temperature argument expects a number between 0 and 1.

Higher temperature
Gives a better chance of interesting/novel output, but more noise (ie: more likely to have nonsense, misspelled words, etc). For example, -temperature 0.9 results in some weird (though still surprisingly Shakespeare-like) output:

“Now, to accursed on the illow me paory; And had weal be on anorembs on the galless under.”

Lower temperature
Less noise, but less novel results. Using -temperature 0.2 gives clear English, but includes a lot of repeated words:

“So have my soul the sentence and the sentence/To be the stander the sentence to my death.”

In other words, everything is a trade-off and experimentation is likely called for with all the settings.

All Done!
That’s it! If you make something cool with this tutorial, please tweet it to me @jeffthompson_.

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127 Replies to “Torch-rnn: Mac Install”

  1. Please help! I am struck at step 7:
    here is the error:
    iMacs-iMac:torch-rnn-master imac$ th train.lua -input_h5 data/tiny_shakespeare.h5 -input_json data/tiny_shakespeare.json
    /Users/imac/torch/install/bin/luajit: /Users/imac/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/trepl/init.lua:389: /Users/imac/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/trepl/init.lua:389: module ‘hdf5’ not found:No LuaRocks module found for hdf5
    no field package.preload[‘hdf5’]
    no file ‘/Users/imac/.luarocks/share/lua/5.1/hdf5.lua’
    no file ‘/Users/imac/.luarocks/share/lua/5.1/hdf5/init.lua’
    no file ‘/Users/imac/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/hdf5.lua’
    no file ‘/Users/imac/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/hdf5/init.lua’
    no file ‘./hdf5.lua’
    no file ‘/Users/imac/torch/install/share/luajit-2.1.0-beta1/hdf5.lua’
    no file ‘/usr/local/share/lua/5.1/hdf5.lua’
    no file ‘/usr/local/share/lua/5.1/hdf5/init.lua’
    no file ‘/Users/imac/.luarocks/lib/lua/5.1/’
    no file ‘/Users/imac/torch/install/lib/lua/5.1/’
    no file ‘./’
    no file ‘/usr/local/lib/lua/5.1/’
    no file ‘/usr/local/lib/lua/5.1/’
    stack traceback:
    [C]: in function ‘error’
    /Users/imac/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/trepl/init.lua:389: in function ‘require’
    train.lua:6: in main chunk
    [C]: in function ‘dofile’
    …imac/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/trepl/scm-1/bin/th:150: in main chunk
    [C]: at 0x01039bda10

  2. Fantastic work, Jeff! I trained a network using the tweets and transcripts of a very controversial politician from my country and I made a Twitter account that tweets his thoughts (clearly, I was inspired by @DeepDrumpf :) ). I have a question: I don’t quite understand how the -sample parameter affects the output. Could you please provide an insight?

  3. @Alejandro – glad it helped! When you get it done, post a link here! Re sample I’m not entirely sure – it has something to do with the way the RNN is encoded and sampled from. There’s a hint about it here. It seems that setting -sample 1 will give more novel results, but probably also risk being less intelligible, like temperature. Afraid that’s all I can surmise, for more you’ll probably have to do some research.

  4. Cool! I’m still trying to improve its grammar but I’ve obtained pretty funny results (for example: “Good morning, postmoderns” (he is an ultra conservative politician so it’s funny, hehe)).

    This is the link:
    (the tweets are in spanish).
    I’d be very happy if you shared this little project. I’m having a lot of fun with it :)

  5. Hello Jeff,

    Sorry, I missed the third step. Now, I made it right. However, I am getting this error:

    MARSs-MacBook-Pro:torch-rnn mars$ th train.lua -input_h5 data/tiny_shakespeare.h5 -input_json data/tiny_shakespeare.json
    /Users/mars/torch/install/bin/luajit: /Users/mars/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/trepl/init.lua:389: /Users/mars/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/trepl/init.lua:389: /Users/mars/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/hdf5/ffi.lua:42: Error: unable to locate HDF5 header file at /usr/local/Cellar/hdf5/1.10.1/include;/usr/include;/usr/local/opt/szip/include/hdf5.h
    stack traceback:
    [C]: in function ‘error’
    /Users/mars/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/trepl/init.lua:389: in function ‘require’
    train.lua:6: in main chunk
    [C]: in function ‘dofile’
    …mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/trepl/scm-1/bin/th:150: in main chunk
    [C]: at 0x010e303a10

    Please help!

  6. @Raja – did you get any errors when you installed the HDF5 library for Lua? Can you look in the HDF5 path it lists (/usr/local/Cellar/hdf5/1.10.1/include;/usr/include;/usr/local/opt/szip/include/hdf5.h and see if it’s there?

  7. Here is the installation:

    MARSs-MacBook-Pro:torch-hdf5 mars$ luarocks make hdf5-0-0.rockspec

    Missing dependencies for hdf5:

    Using… switching to ‘build’ mode
    Cloning into ‘torch-totem’…
    remote: Counting objects: 28, done.
    remote: Compressing objects: 100% (26/26), done.
    remote: Total 28 (delta 0), reused 13 (delta 0), pack-reused 0
    Receiving objects: 100% (28/28), 20.25 KiB | 0 bytes/s, done.
    Updating manifest for /Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks
    totem 0-0 is now built and installed in /Users/mars/torch/install/ (license: BSD)

    cmake -E make_directory build;
    cd build;
    cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=”/Users/mars/torch/install/bin/..” -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=”/Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/hdf5/0-0″;

    — The C compiler identification is AppleClang
    — The CXX compiler identification is AppleClang
    — Check for working C compiler: /Applications/
    — Check for working C compiler: /Applications/ — works
    — Detecting C compiler ABI info
    — Detecting C compiler ABI info – done
    — Detecting C compile features
    — Detecting C compile features – done
    — Check for working CXX compiler: /Applications/
    — Check for working CXX compiler: /Applications/ — works
    — Detecting CXX compiler ABI info
    — Detecting CXX compiler ABI info – done
    — Detecting CXX compile features
    — Detecting CXX compile features – done
    — Found Torch7 in /Users/mars/torch/install
    — HDF5: Using hdf5 compiler wrapper to determine C configuration
    — Found HDF5: /usr/local/Cellar/hdf5/1.10.1/lib/libhdf5.dylib;/usr/local/opt/szip/lib/libsz.dylib;/usr/lib/libz.dylib;/usr/lib/libdl.dylib;/usr/lib/libm.dylib (found suitable version “1.10.1”, minimum required is “1.8”)
    — Configuring done
    — Generating done
    — Build files have been written to: /Users/mars/torch/torch-hdf5/build
    cd build && make install
    Install the project…
    — Install configuration: “Release”
    — Generating /Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/hdf5/0-0/lua/hdf5/config.lua
    — Installing: /Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/hdf5/0-0/lua/hdf5/dataset.lua
    — Installing: /Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/hdf5/0-0/lua/hdf5/datasetOptions.lua
    — Installing: /Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/hdf5/0-0/lua/hdf5/ffi.lua
    — Installing: /Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/hdf5/0-0/lua/hdf5/file.lua
    — Installing: /Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/hdf5/0-0/lua/hdf5/group.lua
    — Installing: /Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/hdf5/0-0/lua/hdf5/init.lua
    — Installing: /Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/hdf5/0-0/lua/hdf5/testUtils.lua
    Updating manifest for /Users/mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks
    hdf5 0-0 is now built and installed in /Users/mars/torch/install/ (license: BSD)

  8. I was able to find the hdf5.h in the /usr/local/Cellar/hdf5/1.10.1/include folder, but was able to locate the file in /usr/local/opt/szip/include/ folder. So I went and copied the file from the other folder and tried to run the script. But I am getting the same error!

  9. Hello Jeff,

    Sorry for my messages.
    Copying the file ratified the previous error!
    I did a restart and now I am getting a different error:
    MARSs-MacBook-Pro:~ mars$ th train.lua -input_h5 data/tiny_shakespeare.h5 -input_json data/tiny_shakespeare.json
    /Users/mars/torch/install/bin/luajit: cannot open train.lua: No such file or directory
    stack traceback:
    [C]: in function ‘dofile’
    …mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/trepl/scm-1/bin/th:150: in main chunk
    [C]: at 0x01072d8a10

  10. Sorry again, the previous error still exists. please help!
    MARSs-MacBook-Pro:torch-rnn mars$ th train.lua -input_h5 data/tiny_shakespeare.h5 -input_json data/tiny_shakespeare.json
    /Users/mars/torch/install/bin/luajit: /Users/mars/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/trepl/init.lua:389: /Users/mars/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/trepl/init.lua:389: /Users/mars/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/hdf5/ffi.lua:42: Error: unable to locate HDF5 header file at /usr/local/Cellar/hdf5/1.10.1/include;/usr/include;/usr/local/opt/szip/include/hdf5.h
    stack traceback:
    [C]: in function ‘error’
    /Users/mars/torch/install/share/lua/5.1/trepl/init.lua:389: in function ‘require’
    train.lua:6: in main chunk
    [C]: in function ‘dofile’
    …mars/torch/install/lib/luarocks/rocks/trepl/scm-1/bin/th:150: in main chunk
    [C]: at 0x010dcb4a10

  11. @Raja – I’m not sure. These installs sometimes depend one thing on another, so it might be best to uninstall all the Lua stuff and start over. Otherwise, you’ll have to try a Lua forum, I don’t know much about how to use or troubleshoot it.

  12. I am receiving the following error on running Step 8:
    $ th train.lua -input_h5 data/tiny_shakespeare.h5 -input_json data/tiny_shakespeare.json -gpu -1
    In file included from /usr/local/Cellar/hdf5/1.10.1/include/hdf5.h:22:
    /usr/local/Cellar/hdf5/1.10.1/include/H5public.h:59:13: fatal error: ‘mpi.h’
    file not found
    # include
    1 error generated.

    Any idea on how to fix this?

  13. When I run step 7, I am unable to locate the HDF5 header file even though I completed all the previous steps properly (except the CUDA one)

    This is the error that I receive:
    Error: unable to locate HDF5 header file at /usr/local/Cellar/hdf5/1.10.1/include;/usr/include;/usr/local/opt/szip/include/hdf5.h

  14. I’m running OS-X Sierra and I see the following note:
    If you’re running a newer OS such as El Capitan, you may run into problems installing Torch, or installing packages afterwards. If that’s the case, you can follow these instructions.

    When I click the link to “follow these instructions” it’s just a bunch of posts of people debating the problem, there are no instructions there?

    Is there a clean set of instructions for newer OS-X?

  15. Thanks for the excellent tutorial! I’m stuck on step 3, however, when attempting to install hdf5. Running MacOS Sierra.

    In terminal, brew install hdf5 does fine for a while but then I get to

    ==> ../configure –build=x86_64-apple-darwin16.7.0 –prefix=/usr/local/Cellar/gc
    ==> make

    And it just hangs. And hangs. And hangs. For over an hour until I finally get fed up and ctl-C out of the program. I’ve followed step 1 to the letter (step 2 doesn’t apply since I don’t have NVidia). Am I doing something wrong?

  16. Hi Jeff, I’m new to all this but so far everything’s been really easy to follow. My problem isn’t really with error messages as much as just nothing happening, I think the step I’m stuck on is importing the h5py library for python. Once I type Python and then Import h5py, I get a >>> that just sits there for ever.

    At first I didn’t realize I hadn’t successfully negotiated that step and had been trying to train, and a similar thing was happening, I think I was getting a >… that was just hanging there indefinitely but I never got any feedback telling me anything was happening except my terminal window didn’t want to close.

    For reference I’m on a Mac OS Sierra

  17. @Tori, ah I (think) that’s an easy one! That’s actually a good sign, showing that h5py imported correctly and it’s ready to go – the >> is a Python prompt where you’d type code. You can just type exit() and continue to the next step!

  18. oh, cool! no wonder it kept saying things like, “yes we have this installed” and, “that already exists damnit”

    anyway i still have the problem of training, i don’t have a GPU so i’ve been adding the -gpu -1 flags but no matter how long i let my computer sit i never get any response. it doesn’t tell me anything’s “running with not-cuda on cpu,” i get no “epoch” anything, ever.
    i also haven’t gotten any error messages though, so it’s hard to actually search what’s wrong. is nothing wrong? do i just need to wait more than ~10h for the first output?

  19. oh wait never mind now i have the same unable to locate HDF5 header file at /usr/local/Cellar/hdf5/1.10.1_2/include;/usr/local/opt/szip/include/hdf5.h error as everybody else! horay!

  20. OK, i think i’ve managed to drag my way through the worst of it but now the issue is:
    invalid argument: input_h5
    when i try to train

    what’s that about

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