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Convert TensorFlow models

This page describes how to convert a TensorFlow model to a TensorFlow Lite model (an optimized FlatBuffer format identified by the .tflite file extension) using the TensorFlow Lite converter.

Conversion workflow

The diagram below illustrations the high-level workflow for converting your model:

TFLite converter workflow

Figure 1. Converter workflow.

You can convert your model using one of the following options:

  1. Python API (recommended): This allows you to integrate the conversion into your development pipeline, apply optimizations, add metadata and many other tasks that simplify the conversion process.
  2. Command line: This only supports basic model conversion.

Python API

Helper code: To learn more about the TensorFlow Lite converter API, run print(help(tf.lite.TFLiteConverter)).

Convert a TensorFlow model using tf.lite.TFLiteConverter. A TensorFlow model is stored using the SavedModel format and is generated either using the high-level tf.keras.* APIs (a Keras model) or the low-level tf.* APIs (from which you generate concrete functions). As a result, you have the following three options (examples are in the next few sections):

The following example shows how to convert a SavedModel into a TensorFlow Lite model.

import tensorflow as tf

# Convert the model
converter = tf.lite.TFLiteConverter.from_saved_model(saved_model_dir) # path to the SavedModel directory
tflite_model = converter.convert()

# Save the model.
with open('model.tflite', 'wb') as f:
  f.write(tflite_model)

Convert a Keras model

The following example shows how to convert a Keras model into a TensorFlow Lite model.

import tensorflow as tf

# Create a model using high-level tf.keras.* APIs
model = tf.keras.models.Sequential([
    tf.keras.layers.Dense(units=1, input_shape=[1]),
    tf.keras.layers.Dense(units=16, activation='relu'),
    tf.keras.layers.Dense(units=1)
])
model.compile(optimizer='sgd', loss='mean_squared_error') # compile the model
model.fit(x=[-1, 0, 1], y=[-3, -1, 1], epochs=5) # train the model
# (to generate a SavedModel) tf.saved_model.save(model, "saved_model_keras_dir")

# Convert the model.
converter = tf.lite.TFLiteConverter.from_keras_model(model)
tflite_model = converter.convert()

# Save the model.
with open('model.tflite', 'wb') as f:
  f.write(tflite_model)

Convert concrete functions

The following example shows how to convert concrete functions into a TensorFlow Lite model.

import tensorflow as tf

# Create a model using low-level tf.* APIs
class Squared(tf.Module):
  @tf.function(input_signature=[tf.TensorSpec(shape=[None], dtype=tf.float32)])
  def __call__(self, x):
    return tf.square(x)
model = Squared()
# (ro run your model) result = Squared(5.0) # This prints "25.0"
# (to generate a SavedModel) tf.saved_model.save(model, "saved_model_tf_dir")
concrete_func = model.__call__.get_concrete_function()

# Convert the model.

converter = tf.lite.TFLiteConverter.from_concrete_functions([concrete_func],
                                                            model)
tflite_model = converter.convert()

# Save the model.
with open('model.tflite', 'wb') as f:
  f.write(tflite_model)

Other features

  • Apply optimizations. A common optimization used is post training quantization, which can further reduce your model latency and size with minimal loss in accuracy.

  • Add metadata, which makes it easier to create platform specific wrapper code when deploying models on devices.

Conversion errors

The following are common conversion errors and their solutions:

  • Error: Some ops are not supported by the native TFLite runtime, you can enable TF kernels fallback using TF Select. See instructions: <a href="https://www.tensorflow.org/lite/guide/ops_select">https://www.tensorflow.org/lite/guide/ops_select</a> TF Select ops: ..., .., ...

    Solution: The error occurs as your model has TF ops that don't have a corresponding TFLite implementation. You can resolve this by using the TF op in the TFLite model (recommended). If you want to generate a model with TFLite ops only, you can either add a request for the missing TFLite op in Github issue #21526 (leave a comment if your request hasn’t already been mentioned) or create the TFLite op yourself.

  • Error: .. is neither a custom op nor a flex op

    Solution: If this TF op is:

Command Line Tool

If you've installed TensorFlow 2.x from pip, use the tflite_convert command. To view all the available flags, use the following command:

$ tflite_convert --help

`--output_file`. Type: string. Full path of the output file.
`--saved_model_dir`. Type: string. Full path to the SavedModel directory.
`--keras_model_file`. Type: string. Full path to the Keras H5 model file.
`--enable_v1_converter`. Type: bool. (default False) Enables the converter and flags used in TF 1.x instead of TF 2.x.

You are required to provide the `--output_file` flag and either the `--saved_model_dir` or `--keras_model_file` flag.

If you have the TensorFlow 2.x source donwloaded and want to run the converter from that source without building and installing the package, you can replace 'tflite_convert' with 'bazel run tensorflow/lite/python:tflite_convert --' in the command.

Converting a SavedModel

tflite_convert \
  --saved_model_dir=/tmp/mobilenet_saved_model \
  --output_file=/tmp/mobilenet.tflite

Converting a Keras H5 model

tflite_convert \
  --keras_model_file=/tmp/mobilenet_keras_model.h5 \
  --output_file=/tmp/mobilenet.tflite

Next Steps

Use the TensorFlow Lite interpreter to run inference on a client device (e.g. mobile, embedded).