Wraps a python function into a TensorFlow op that executes it eagerly.

Using tf.py_function inside a tf.function allows you to run a python function using eager execution, inside the tf.function's graph. This has two main affects:

  1. This allows you to use nofunc=None, inp=None, Tout=Nonen tensorflow code inside your tf.function.
  2. It allows you to run python control logic in a tf.function without relying on tf.autograph to convert the code to use tensorflow control logic (tf.cond, tf.while_loop).

Both of these features can be useful for debgging.

Since tf.py_function operates on Tensors it is still differentiable (once).

There are two ways to use this function:

As a decorator

Use tf.py_function as a decorator to ensure the function always runs eagerly.

When using tf.py_function as a decorator:

  • you must set Tout
  • you may set name
  • you must not set func or inp

For example, you might use tf.py_function to implement the log huber function.

def py_log_huber(x, m):
  print('Running with eager execution.')
  if tf.abs(x) <= m:
    return x**2
    return m**2 * (1 - 2 * tf.math.log(m) + tf.math.log(x**2))

Under eager execution the function operates normally:

x = tf.constant(1.0)
m = tf.constant(2.0)

Running with eager execution.

Inside a tf.function the tf.py_function is not converted to a tf.Graph.:

def tf_wrapper(x):
  m = tf.constant(2.0)
  return py_log_huber(x,m)

The tf.py_function only executes eagerly, and only when the tf.function is called:

Running with eager execution.
Running with eager execution.

Gradients work as exeppcted:

with tf.GradientTape() as t:
  y = tf_wrapper(x)
Running with eager execution.

t.gradient(y, x).numpy()


You can also skip the decorator and use tf.py_function inplace. This form can a useful shortcut if you don't control the function's source, but it is harder to read.

# No decorator
def log_huber(x, m):
  if tf.abs(x) <= m:
    return x**2
    return m**2 * (1 - 2 * tf.math.log(m) + tf.math.log(x**2))

x = tf.constant(1.0)
m = tf.constant(2.0)

tf.py_function(func=log_huber, inp=[x, m], Tout=tf.float32).numpy()

More info

You can also use tf.py_function to debug your models at runtime using Python tools, i.e., you can isolate portions of your code that you want to debug, wrap them in Python functions and insert pdb tracepoints or print statements as desired, and wrap those functions in tf.py_function.

For more information on eager execution, see the Eager guide.

tf.py_function is similar in spirit to tf.numpy_function, but unlike the latter, the former lets you use TensorFlow operations in the wrapped Python function. In particular, while tf.compat.v1.py_func only runs on CPUs and wraps functions that take NumPy arrays as inputs and return NumPy arrays as outputs, tf.py_function can be placed on GPUs and wraps functions that take Tensors as inputs, execute TensorFlow operations in their bodies, and return Tensors as outputs.

  • Calling tf.py_function will acquire the Python Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) that allows only one thread to run at any point in time. This will preclude efficient parallelization and distribution of the execution of the program.

  • The body of the function (i.e. func) will not be serialized in a GraphDef. Therefore, you should not use this function if you need to serialize your model and restore it in a different environment.

  • The operation must run in the same address space as the Python program that calls tf.py_function(). If you are using distributed TensorFlow, you must run a tf.distribute.Server in the same process as the program that calls tf.py_function() and you must pin the created operation to a device in that server (e.g. using with tf.device():).

  • Currently tf.py_function is not compatible with XLA. Calling tf.py_function inside tf.function(jit_compile=True) will raise an error.

func A Python function that accepts inp as arguments, and returns a value (or list of values) whose type is described by Tout. Do not set func when using tf.py_function as a decorator.
inp Input arguments for func. A list whose elements are Tensors or CompositeTensors (such as tf.RaggedTensor); or a single Tensor or CompositeTensor. Do not set inp when using tf.py_function as a decorator.
Tout The type(s) of the value(s) returned by func. One of the following.

  • If func returns a Tensor (or a value that can be converted to a Tensor): the tf.DType for that value.
  • If func returns a CompositeTensor: The tf.TypeSpec for that value.
  • If func returns None: the empty list ([]).
  • If func returns a list of Tensor and CompositeTensor values: a corresponding list of tf.DTypes and tf.TypeSpecs for each value.
name A name for the operation (optional).

  • If func is None this returns a decorator that will ensure the decorated function will always run with eager execution even if called from a tf.function/tf.Graph.
  • If used func is not None this executes func with eager execution and returns the result: a Tensor, CompositeTensor, or list of Tensor and CompositeTensor; or an empty list if func returns None.