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tf.config.experimental.enable_op_determinism

Configures TensorFlow ops to run deterministically.

When op determinism is enabled, TensorFlow ops will be deterministic. This means that if an op is run multiple times with the same inputs on the same hardware, it will have the exact same outputs each time. This is useful for debugging models. Note that determinism in general comes at the expense of lower performance and so your model may run slower when op determinism is enabled.

If you want your TensorFlow program to run deterministically, put the following code near the start of your program.

tf.keras.utils.set_random_seed(1)
tf.config.experimental.enable_op_determinism()

Calling tf.keras.utils.set_random_seed sets the Python seed, the NumPy seed, and the TensorFlow seed. Setting these seeds is necessary to ensure any random numbers your program generates are also deterministic.

By default, op determinism is not enabled, so ops might return different results when run with the same inputs. These differences are often caused by the use of asynchronous threads within the op nondeterministically changing the order in which floating-point numbers are added. Most of these cases of nondeterminism occur on GPUs, which have thousands of hardware threads that are used to run ops. Enabling determinism directs such ops to use a different algorithm, one that does not use threads in a nondeterministic way.

Another potential source of nondeterminism is tf.data based data processing. Typically, this can introduce nondeterminsm due to the use of parallelism in methods such as Dataset.map producing inputs or running stateful ops in a nondeterministic order. Enabling determinism will remove such sources of nondeterminism.

Enabling determinism will likely make your model or your tf.data data processing slower. For example, Dataset.map can become several orders of magnitude slower when the map function has random ops or other stateful ops. See the “Determinism and tf.data” section below for more details. In future TensorFlow releases, we plan on improving the performance of determinism, especially for common scenarios such as Dataset.map.

Certain ops will raise an UnimplementedError because they do not yet have a deterministic implementation. Additionally, due to bugs, some ops might be nondeterministic and not raise an UnimplementedError. If you encounter such ops, please file an issue.

An example of enabling determinism follows. The tf.nn.softmax_cross_entropy_with_logits op is run multiple times and the output is shown to be the same each time. This example would likely fail when run on a GPU if determinism were not enabled, because tf.nn.softmax_cross_entropy_with_logits uses a nondeterministic algorithm on GPUs by default.

labels = tf.random.normal((1, 10000))
logits = tf.random.normal((1, 10000))
output = tf.nn.softmax_cross_entropy_with_logits(labels=labels,
                                                 logits=logits)
for _ in range(5):
  output2 = tf.nn.softmax_cross_entropy_with_logits(labels=labels,
                                                    logits=logits)
  tf.debugging.assert_equal(output, output2)

Writing deterministic models

You can make your models deterministic by enabling op determinism. This means that you can train a model and finish each run with exactly the same trainable variables. This also means that the inferences of your previously-trained model will be exactly the same on each run. Typically, models can be made deterministic by simply setting the seeds and enabling op determinism, as in the example above. However, to guarantee that your model operates deterministically, you must meet all the following requirements:

  • Call tf.config.experimental.enable_op_determinism(), as mentioned above.
  • Reproducibly reset any pseudorandom number generators (PRNGs) you’re using, such as by setting the seeds for the default PRNGs in TensorFlow, Python, and NumPy, as mentioned above. Note that certain newer NumPy classes like numpy.random.default_rng ignore the global NumPy seed, so a seed must be explicitly passed to such classes, if used.
  • Use the same hardware configuration in every run.
  • Use the same software environment in every run (OS, checkpoints, version of CUDA and TensorFlow, environmental variables, etc). Note that determinism is not guaranteed across different versions of TensorFlow.
  • Do not use constructs outside TensorFlow that are nondeterministic, such as reading from /dev/random or using multiple threads/processes in ways that influence TensorFlow’s behavior.
  • Ensure your input pipeline is deterministic. If you use tf.data, this is done automatically (at the expense of performance). See "Determinism and tf.data" below for more information.
  • Do not use tf.compat.v1.Session and tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy, which can introduce nondeterminism. Besides ops (including tf.data ops), these are the only known potential sources of nondeterminism within TensorFlow, (if you find more, please file an issue). Note that tf.compat.v1.Session is required to use the TF1 API, so determinism cannot be guaranteed when using the TF1 API.
  • Do not use nondeterministic custom ops.

Additional details on determinism

For stateful ops to be deterministic, the state of the system must be the same every time the op is run. For example the output of tf.Variable.sparse_read (obviously) depends on both the variable value and the indices function parameter. When determinism is enabled, the side effects of stateful ops are deterministic.

TensorFlow’s random ops, such as tf.random.normal, will raise a RuntimeError if determinism is enabled and a seed has not been set. However, attempting to generate nondeterministic random numbers using Python or NumPy will not raise such errors. Make sure you remember to set the Python and NumPy seeds. Calling tf.keras.utils.set_random_seed is an easy way to set all three seeds.

Note that latency, memory consumption, throughput, and other performance characteristics are not made deterministic by enabling op determinism. Only op outputs and side effects are made deterministic. Additionally, a model may nondeterministically raise a tf.errors.ResourceExhaustedError from a lack of memory due to the fact that memory consumption is nondeterministic.

Determinism and tf.data

Enabling deterministic ops makes tf.data deterministic in several ways:

  1. For dataset methods with a deterministic argument, such as Dataset.map and Dataset.batch, the deterministic argument is overridden to be True irrespective of its setting.
  2. The tf.data.Option.experimental_deterministic option is overridden to be True irrespective of its setting..
  3. In Dataset.map and Dataset.interleave, if the map or interleave function has stateful random ops or other stateful ops, the function will run serially instead of in parallel. This means the num_parallel_calls argument to map and interleave is effectively ignored.
  4. Prefetching with Dataset.prefetch will be disabled if any function run as part of the input pipeline has certain stateful ops. Similarly, any dataset method with a num_parallel_calls argument will be made to run serially if any function in the input pipeline has such stateful ops. Legacy random ops such as tf.random.normal will not cause such datasets to be changed, but most other stateful ops will.

Unfortunately, due to (3), performance can be greatly reduced when stateful ops are used in Dataset.map due to no longer running the map function in parallel. A common example of stateful ops used in Dataset.map are random ops, such as tf.random.normal,