5 Tips For Migrating ML Models From Batch to Real-Time

Consumers seek personalized and immediate experiences. Traditional batch Machine Learning falls short where Real-Time Machine Learning is the solution.
Grig Duta
Grig Duta
Solutions Engineer at Qwak
August 22, 2023
Table of contents
5 Tips For Migrating ML Models From Batch to Real-Time

Introduction

In today's digital age, consumers increasingly expect personalized experiences, immediate responses, and high relevance in their interactions with businesses. In this article we’ll dive into why traditional batch Machine Learning (ML) methods, which process data at scheduled intervals, often fall short in meeting these expectations. Real-Time Machine Learning emerges as a solution, offering instantaneous predictions and the ability to adapt on-the-fly. 

This article explores the limitations of batch predictions, the advantages of real-time ML, and provides actionable insights for organizations looking to transition.

What is Real-Time Machine Learning

Real-time machine learning is the capability of ML systems to make predictions and adapt to new data instantaneously. This real-time adaptability offers the next level of interaction and potential value to its consumers. However, achieving real-time ML requires a robust infrastructure and a specific tech stack. According to KDnuggets, there are two primary levels of real-time machine learning:

Level 1: Online Predictions

At this level, the ML system can make predictions in real-time, with "real-time" typically meaning responses within milliseconds to seconds.

Example: Recommendation Systems

Search Engines: Real-time predictions can refine search results based on a user's current session activity, offering more relevant results than batch predictions.

E-commerce: For platforms like Amazon, real-time predictions can suggest products based on the user's current browsing patterns, enhancing the likelihood of a purchase.

Entertainment Platforms: Platforms like Spotify can offer song recommendations based on the current listening session, tailoring the experience to the user's present mood.

Level 2: Online Learning (Continuous Learning)

In this phase, the system does not not only makes predictions in real-time but also updates its model with new data in real-time. Here, "real-time" is defined as responses within the order of minutes.

Example: Dynamic Recommendation Systems

Social Media Platforms: Platforms like Instagram can adapt their content recommendations based on a user's real-time interactions, ensuring a continuously engaging feed.

E-commerce: For events like flash sales, platforms can adjust product recommendations based on real-time inventory and user demand, optimizing the shopping experience.

News Platforms: Real-time learning allows platforms like BBC to adapt to breaking news, ensuring users are always presented with the most current and relevant headlines.

In this article our focus will be on the first phase, making the leap from batch (offline) to real-time (online) predictions in your ML models.

Challenges with Batch Predictions

While batch Machine Learning (ML) predictions, also known as Offline Predictions, have been the traditional approach for many organizations, there are inherent limitations that might make it less suitable for today's dynamic and fast-paced environment. Let's explore these limitations and understand why there's a growing shift towards serving online predictions:

Delayed Decision Making

Batch predictions process data at scheduled intervals, which means decisions based on these predictions can only be made after the entire batch is processed.

Use-case: Consider a financial institution assessing credit risk. With batch predictions, a customer might have to wait hours or even days for a loan approval, whereas real-time predictions could offer instant decisions.

Stale Data Insights

By the time batch predictions are completed, the data might no longer reflect the current scenario, leading to decisions based on outdated information.

Use-case: In stock trading, batch predictions might provide insights on stock prices that have already changed, potentially leading to missed opportunities or financial losses.

Inability to Respond to Immediate Events

Batch predictions cannot immediately respond to sudden changes or events, making them less suitable for situations that require rapid reactions.

Use-case: In e-commerce, if a trending product suddenly gains traction on social media, batch predictions might not capture this trend quickly enough, resulting in missed sales opportunities.

Lack of Personalization

In today's digital age, users expect personalized experiences. Batch predictions, due to their inherent delay, might not capture the most recent user interactions, leading to less tailored recommendations.

Use-case: For online streaming platforms, batch predictions might recommend shows based on a user's viewing history from days ago, missing out on their most recent preferences.

Operational Inefficiencies

Waiting for BbBatch predictions to complete can lead to operational bottlenecks, especially in sectors where timely decisions are crucial.

Use-case: In supply chain management, batch predictions might delay decisions on inventory restocking, potentially leading to stockouts or overstock situations.

The Feedback Loop in Machine Learning Models Using Batch vs Real-Time Predictions

Migrating Your Machine Learning Models From Batch to Real-Time

1. Understand the Business Need for Real-Time Inference

Determine the Business Value: Before delving into the technical aspects, discern the tangible business benefits of real-time inference. Does your application truly gain from immediate predictions, or can it operate with periodic insights?

Pinpoint Specific Use Cases: Not every ML model requires real-time inference. Identify scenarios where instantaneous predictions can be game-changers, such as fraud detection or instant recommendations.

2. Optimize Your Model for Quick Predictions:

Simplify the Model: Complex models with many layers or parameters can cause delays. Explore methods like model distillation or pruning to keep accuracy high while cutting down on computational needs.

Adopt Fast Algorithms: Some algorithms inherently deliver faster results. Depending on the scenario, simpler models like decision trees might outpace deep neural networks in speed.

3. Incorporate Stream Processing Frameworks:

Select the Ideal Framework: Platforms like Apache Kafka, Apache Flink excel in real-time data handling and can be integrated seamlessly with ML models for real-time inference.

Capitalize on Parallel Processing: These tools support concurrent processing, enhancing the speed of real-time data handling. Ensure your model is designed to manage simultaneous requests efficiently.

4. Guarantee Data Quality for Inference:

On-the-Fly Data Preprocessing: Unlike batch models, real-time inference requires immediate data cleaning and preprocessing. Design efficient pipelines to maintain data quality without delays.

Strategize for Incomplete Data: Real-time data can occasionally be erratic. Equip your model to manage missing or partial data, possibly through default values or imputation techniques.

5. Monitor Model Performance Relentlessly:

Watch the Latency: In real-time predictions, even small lags can affect the user experience or business processes. It's vital to check that the system consistently meets speed standards.

Monitor Throughput: For apps handling many simultaneous requests, maintaining high throughput is key. This ensures the system manages high traffic without a drop in performance.

Detecting Data Drift: With real-time systems, data can shift quickly. Regular checks help spot and address these changes early, keeping the model on point.

Track Error Rates: A sudden increase in mistakes can signal problems with the model or the data. Quick detection and fixing are essential.

Resource Utilization: The demands on real-time systems can vary. It's crucial to watch over computational resources to avoid possible system slowdowns.

Set Up Alerts: Due to the real-time nature of these systems, fast reactions to problems are essential. Automated notifications ensure issues are tackled without delay.

Conclusion

The migration from batch to real-time machine learning is more than just a technological shift; it's a strategic move that can redefine how businesses operate, make decisions, and engage with their consumers. While the journey may present its challenges, from ensuring data quality to relentless model monitoring, the rewards in terms of operational efficiency, timely decision-making, and enhanced personalization are undeniable. As we stand on the cusp of this new era in ML, organizations that embrace real-time predictions will undoubtedly be better positioned to harness the full potential of artificial intelligence, staying ahead of the curve and setting new industry standards

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