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Generic logic/conditional class or library for classification of data

P: n/a
This topic is difficult to describe in one subject sentence...

Has anyone come across the application of the simple statement "if
(object1's attributes meet some conditions) then (set object2's
attributes to certain outcomes)", where "object1" and "object2" are
generic objects, and the "conditions" and "outcomes" are dynamic run-
time inputs? Typically, logic code for any application out there is
hard-coded. I have been working with Python for a year, and its
flexibility is nothing short of amazing. Wouldn't it be possible to
have a class or library that can do this sort of dynamic logic?

The main application of such code would be for classification
algorithms which, based on the attributes of a given object, can
classify the object into a scheme. In general, conditions for
classification can be complex, sometimes involving a collection of
"and", "or", "not" clauses. The simplest outcome would involve simply
setting a few attributes of the output object to given values if the
input condition is met. So each such "if-then" clause can be viewed as
a rule that is custom-defined at runtime.

As a very basic example, consider a set of uncategorized objects that
have text descriptions associated with them. The objects are some type
of tangible product, e.g., books. So the input object has a
Description attribute, and the output object (a categorized book)
would have some attributes like Discipline, Target audience, etc.
Let's say that one such rule is "if ( 'description' contains
'algebra') then ('discipline' = 'math', 'target' = 'student') ". Keep
in mind that all these attribute names and their values are not known
at design time.

Is there one obvious way to do this in Python?
Perhaps this is more along the lines of data mining methods?
Is there a library with this sort of functionality out there already?

Any help will be appreciated.

Apr 1 '07 #1
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4 Replies


P: n/a
On Sat, 31 Mar 2007 21:54:46 -0700, Basilisk96 wrote:
As a very basic example, consider a set of uncategorized objects that
have text descriptions associated with them. The objects are some type
of tangible product, e.g., books. So the input object has a
Description attribute, and the output object (a categorized book)
would have some attributes like Discipline, Target audience, etc.
Let's say that one such rule is "if ( 'description' contains
'algebra') then ('discipline' = 'math', 'target' = 'student')". Keep
in mind that all these attribute names and their values are not known at
design time.
Easy-peasy.

rules = {'algebra': {'discipline': 'math', 'target': 'student'},
'python': {'section': 'programming', 'os': 'linux, windows'}}

class Input_Book(object):
def __init__(self, description):
self.description = description

class Output_Book(object):
def __repr__(self):
return "Book - %s" % self.__dict__

def process_book(book):
out = Output_Book()
for desc in rules:
if desc in book.description:
attributes = rules[desc]
for attr in attributes:
setattr(out, attr, attributes[attr])
return out

book1 = Input_Book('python for cheese-makers')
book2 = Input_Book('teaching algebra in haikus')
book3 = Input_Book('how to teach algebra to python programmers')

>>process_book(book1)
Book - {'section': 'programming', 'os': 'linux, windows'}
>>process_book(book2)
Book - {'discipline': 'math', 'target': 'student'}
>>process_book(book3)
Book - {'discipline': 'math', 'section': 'programming',
'os': 'linux, windows', 'target': 'student'}
I've made some simplifying assumptions: the input object always has a
description attribute. Also the behaviour when two or more rules set the
same attribute is left undefined. If you want more complex rules you can
follow the same technique, except you'll need a set of meta-rules to
decide what rules to follow.

But having said that, I STRONGLY recommend that you don't follow that
approach of creating variable instance attributes at runtime. The reason
is, it's quite hard for you to know what to do with an Output_Book once
you've got it. You'll probably end up filling your code with horrible
stuff like this:

if hasattr(book, 'target'):
do_something_with(book.target)
elif hasattr(book, 'discipline'):
do_something_with(book.discipline)
elif ... # etc.
Replacing the hasattr() checks with try...except blocks isn't any
less icky.

Creating instance attributes at runtime has its place; I just don't think
this is it.

Instead, I suggest you encapsulate the variable parts of the book
attributes into a single attribute:

class Output_Book(object):
def __init__(self, name, data):
self.name = name # common attribute(s)
self.data = data # variable attributes
Then, instead of setting each variable attribute individually with
setattr(), simply collect all of them in a dict and save them in data:

def process_book(book):
data = {}
for desc in rules:
if desc in book.description:
data.update(rules[desc])
return Output_Book(book.name, data)
Now you can do this:

outbook = process_book(book)
# handle the common attributes that are always there
print outbook.name
# handle the variable attributes
print "Stock = %s" % output.data.setdefault('status', 0)
print "discipline = %s" % output.data.get('discipline', 'none')
# handle all the variable attributes
for key, value in output.data.iteritems():
do_something_with(key, value)
Any time you have to deal with variable attributes that may or may not be
there, you have to use more complex code, but you can minimize the
complexity by keeping the variable attributes separate from the common
attributes.
--
Steven.

Apr 1 '07 #2

P: n/a

On Mar 31, 2007, at 11:54 PM, Basilisk96 wrote:
This topic is difficult to describe in one subject sentence...

Has anyone come across the application of the simple statement "if
(object1's attributes meet some conditions) then (set object2's
attributes to certain outcomes)", where "object1" and "object2" are
generic objects, and the "conditions" and "outcomes" are dynamic run-
time inputs? Typically, logic code for any application out there is
hard-coded. I have been working with Python for a year, and its
flexibility is nothing short of amazing. Wouldn't it be possible to
have a class or library that can do this sort of dynamic logic?

The main application of such code would be for classification
algorithms which, based on the attributes of a given object, can
classify the object into a scheme. In general, conditions for
classification can be complex, sometimes involving a collection of
"and", "or", "not" clauses. The simplest outcome would involve simply
setting a few attributes of the output object to given values if the
input condition is met. So each such "if-then" clause can be viewed as
a rule that is custom-defined at runtime.

As a very basic example, consider a set of uncategorized objects that
have text descriptions associated with them. The objects are some type
of tangible product, e.g., books. So the input object has a
Description attribute, and the output object (a categorized book)
would have some attributes like Discipline, Target audience, etc.
Let's say that one such rule is "if ( 'description' contains
'algebra') then ('discipline' = 'math', 'target' = 'student') ". Keep
in mind that all these attribute names and their values are not known
at design time.

Is there one obvious way to do this in Python?
Perhaps this is more along the lines of data mining methods?
Is there a library with this sort of functionality out there already?

Any help will be appreciated.
You may be interested in http://divmod.org/trac/wiki/DivmodReverend
-- it is a general purpose Bayesian classifier written in python.

hope this helps,
Michael
Apr 1 '07 #3

P: n/a
Thanks for the help, guys.
Dictionaries to the rescue!

Steven, it's certainly true that runtime creation of attributes does
not fit well here. At some point, an application needs to come out of
generics and deal with logic that is specific to the problem. The
example I gave was classification of books, which is relatively easy
to understand. The particular app I'm working with deals with
specialty piping valves, where the list of rules grows complicated
fairly quickly.

So, having said that "attributes are not known at design time", it
seems that dictionaries are best for the generic core functionality:
it's easy to iterate over arbitrary "key, value" pairs without
hiccups. I can even reference a custom function by a key, and call it
during the iteration to do what's necessary. The input/output
dictionaries would dictate that behavior, so that would be the
implementation-specific stuff. Easy enough, and the core functionality
remains generic enough for re-use.

Michael, I looked at the sample snippets at that link, and I'll have
to try it out. Thanks!

Apr 3 '07 #4

P: n/a
On Apr 3, 5:43 am, "Basilisk96" <basilis...@gmail.comwrote:
Thanks for the help, guys.
Dictionaries to the rescue!

Steven, it's certainly true that runtime creation of attributes does
not fit well here. At some point, an application needs to come out of
generics and deal with logic that is specific to the problem. The
example I gave was classification of books, which is relatively easy
to understand. The particular app I'm working with deals with
specialty piping valves, where the list of rules grows complicated
fairly quickly.

So, having said that "attributes are not known at design time", it
seems that dictionaries are best for the generic core functionality:
it's easy to iterate over arbitrary "key, value" pairs without
hiccups. I can even reference a custom function by a key, and call it
during the iteration to do what's necessary. The input/output
dictionaries would dictate that behavior, so that would be the
implementation-specific stuff. Easy enough, and the core functionality
remains generic enough for re-use.

Michael, I looked at the sample snippets at that link, and I'll have
to try it out. Thanks!
Hello,

If your rules become more complicated and maybe increase in number
significantly,
it might be an idea to switch to a rule-based system. Take a look at
CLIPS and the
associated Python bindings:

http://www.ghg.net/clips/CLIPS.html
http://pyclips.sourceforge.net/

Kind regards,

Marco

Apr 3 '07 #5

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