Hyperparameter tuning in machine learning

Igor Novikov
Innova company blog
2 min readOct 20, 2023

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Let's talk about hyperparameter tuning in machine learning. It is the process of optimizing the hyperparameters of a machine learning model to achieve the best possible performance on a given task or dataset. Hyperparameters are parameters that are not learned from the data but are set before the training process begins. They control various aspects of the learning process and can significantly impact the model’s performance and generalization ability.

Some common hyperparameters in machine learning:

  1. Learning Rate: This hyperparameter determines the step size at which the model updates its parameters during training. A too high learning rate can lead to overshooting the optimal solution, while a too low learning rate can result in slow convergence or getting stuck in local minima.
  2. Number of Epochs: It specifies how many times the model will go through the entire training dataset. Too few epochs may result in underfitting, while too many can lead to overfitting.
  3. Batch Size: It determines the number of data points used in each iteration of training. Smaller batch sizes can lead to noisy gradients, while larger batch sizes may require more memory.
  4. Number of Hidden Units or Layers: These hyperparameters define the architecture of neural networks. The choice of the number of layers and units can affect the model’s capacity to capture complex patterns.
  5. Regularization Strength: Regularization techniques like L1 or L2 regularization help prevent overfitting. The strength of regularization is controlled by hyperparameters like lambda (λ).
  6. Activation Functions: The choice of activation functions (e.g., ReLU, sigmoid, tanh) can impact the model’s ability to learn and generalize.
  7. Dropout Rate: Dropout is a regularization technique that randomly drops a fraction of neurons during training to prevent overfitting. The dropout rate is a hyperparameter controlling the dropout probability.
  8. Optimization Algorithm: Different optimization algorithms (e.g., SGD, Adam, RMSprop) have hyperparameters like momentum, learning rate scheduling, etc., that can be tuned.

Hyperparameter tuning involves searching for the best combination of these hyperparameters to optimize the model’s performance. It’s typically an iterative process that can be done using various techniques:

  1. Grid Search: It involves specifying a grid of hyperparameter values to be tested exhaustively. The model is trained and evaluated for each combination of hyperparameters.
  2. Random Search: Randomly selected hyperparameters are evaluated, making it more efficient than grid search while still exploring a wide range of possibilities.
  3. Bayesian Optimization: This is a probabilistic model-based approach that uses Bayesian inference to guide the search for optimal hyperparameters efficiently.
  4. Gradient-Based Optimization: Some advanced methods use gradient information to optimize hyperparameters, although these are typically computationally expensive.
  5. Automated Hyperparameter Tuning Tools: There are also automated tools like AutoML libraries that can perform hyperparameter tuning automatically, saving time and effort.

Hyperparameter tuning is a crucial step in the machine learning pipeline as it can significantly impact the model’s performance and its ability to generalize to new data. Finding the right set of hyperparameters can lead to more accurate and robust machine-learning models.

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Igor Novikov
Innova company blog

Founder & CTO at Innova-technology.com | AI enthusiast 🧠 | Conference Speaker | Tech with a human touch.