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Machine learning resources for .NET developers

Machine learning for .NET

Greetings friends and welcome to this article on Machine learning libraries for .NET developers.  Machine learning is a hot topic right now and for good reason.  Personally, I haven't been so excited about a technology since my computer used my 2800 baud modem to dial into a BBS over 17 years ago.  The thought that my computer could communicate with another computer was so fascinating to me.  That moment was the very moment that would forever change my life.  I learned a lot about DOS by writing batch scripts and running other programs that allowed me to visit and then run a BBS system.  It eventually lead me to QBasic.  I wanted to learn to write BBS door games and QBasic was included as a part of a standard DOS installation back then.

Fast forward 17 years and I'm still in love with computers, programming, and the concept of communication between machines.  The magic never disappeared.  So when i first learned about the concept of Machine learning, I felt like that 13 year old kid again.  The idea that a machine can learn to do things that it has not been programmed to do is now a passion of mine.  The concepts of Machine learning have an extreme learning curve, however, I believe that we as humans can do anything that we put our mind to.  So I began looking around for tutorials on machine learning.  I found many great tutorials and books, however, most of them involved using python.  I have nothing against python.  As a matter of fact, I find it ironic that I started with BASIC and now in this moment of "rebirth" I'm beginning to use python which looks a lot like BASIC in many ways.  The fact of the matter remains, I'm a .NET developer.  I've spent the last 9 years in the .NET framework and I love the technology.  C# is an awesome programming language and it's hard to imagine life without Visual Studio.  What can I say, the IDE has spoiled me.

While I scoured the internet looking for tutorials related to Machine learning resources for .NET developers, I wished that there was a one resource that would assist me in my search for resources to help me achieve my goal.

Well that's what this article is all about.  In this article, I will introduce you to some .NET libraries that will assist you in your quest to learn about Machine learning.

NND Neural Network Designer by Bragisoft

The Neural Network Designer project (NND) is a DBMS management system for neural networks that was created by Jan Bogaerts.  The designer application is developed using WPF, and is a user interface which allows you to design your neural network, query the network, create and configure chat bots that are capable of asking questions and learning from your feed back.  The chat bots can even scrape the internet for information to return in their output as well as to use for learning.  The project includes a custom language syntax called NNL (neural network language) that you can use in configuring your machine learning project.  The source code is designed so that the libraries can be used in your own custom applications so you don't have to start from scratch with such a complex set of technologies.  The project is actually an open source project in which I am a part of.  Some of the possibilities offered by this awesome project include predictions, image and pattern recognition, value inspection, memory profiling and much more.  Stop by the Bragisoft NND website and download the application to give it a try

 Screen shots of the neural network designer by Bragisoft

A DBMS for neural networks

A DBMS for neural networks

 

Mind map rand forrest

Machine learning

The chat bot designer and other tools

GUIs and debuggers

Accord.net

Here is a description from the Accord.NET project website 

Accord.NET is a framework for scientific computing in .NET. The framework builds upon AForge.NET, an also popular framework for image processing, supplying new tools and libraries. Those libraries encompass a wide range of scientific computing applications, such as statistical data processing, machine learning, pattern recognition, including but not limited to, computer vision and computer audition. The framework offers a large number of probability distributions, hypothesis tests, kernel functions and support for most popular performance measurements techniques.

 The most impressive parts of this library has got to be the documentation and sample applications that are distributed with the project.  This makes the library easy to get started using.  I also like the ability to perform operations like Audio processing (beat detection and more), Video processing (easy integration with your web cam, vision capabilities and object recognition).  This is an excellent place to start with approaching Machine learning with the .NET framework.  Here are a two videos that should whet your appetite.

Hand writing recognition with Accord.NET

 

Here is an example of head tracking with Accord.NET (super cool)

 

AIMLBot Program# AILM Chat bot library

AIMLBot (Program#) is a small, fast, standards-compliant yet easily customizable implementation of an AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) based chatter bot in C#. AIMLBot has been tested on both Microsoft's runtime environment and Mono. Put simply, it will allow you to chat (by entering text) with your computer using natural language.  The project is located here.

Math.NET

Machine learning algorithms are extremely math heavy.  Math.NET is a library  that can assist with the math that is required to solve machine learning related problems.

Math.NET Numerics aims to provide methods and algorithms for numerical computations in science, engineering and every day use. Covered topics include special functions, linear algebra, probability models, random numbers, interpolation, integral transforms and more.

DotNumerics

DotNumerics is a website dedicated to numerical computing for .NET. DotNumerics includes a Numerical Library for .NET. The library is written in pure C# and has more than 100,000 lines of code with the most advanced algorithms for Linear Algebra, Differential Equations and Optimization problems. The Linear Algebra library includes CSLapack, CSBlas and CSEispack, these libraries are the translation from Fortran to C# of LAPACK, BLAS and EISPACK, respectively.

You can find the library here. 

ALGLIB

ALGLIB is a cross-platform numerical analysis and data processing library. It supports several programming languages (C++, C#, Pascal, VBA) and several operating systems (Windows, Linux, Solaris). ALGLIB features include:

Accessing ‘R’ from C#–Lessons learned

Here are instructions to use the R statistical framework from within c#

ILNumerics

You can check out the library at http://www.ilnumerics.net

NuML.net http://numl.net

A nice site about the basics of machine learning in c# by Seth Juarez . NuML.NET is a machine learning library for .NET developers written by Seth Juarez.  I've recently tried this library and I'm impressed!  Seth has stated publicly that his intention behind the numl.net library is to abstract the scary math away from machine learning to provide tools that are more approachable by software developers and boy did he deliver!  I've been working with this library for a little more than an hour and I've written a prediction app in c#.  You can find his numl.net library source on github.

Encog Machine Learning Framework

Here is what the official Heaton Research website has to say about Encog:

Encog is an advanced machine learning framework that supports a variety of advanced algorithms, as well as support classes to normalize and process data. Machine learning algorithms such as Support Vector Machines, Artificial Neural Networks, Genetic Programming, Bayesian Networks, Hidden Markov Models and Genetic Algorithms are supported. Most Encog training algoritms are multi-threaded and scale well to multicore hardware. Encog can also make use of a GPU to further speed processing time. A GUI based workbench is also provided to help model and train machine learning algorithms. Encog has been in active development since 2008.

Encog is available for Java, .Net and C/C++.

Jeff Heaton knows a great deal about machine learning algorithms and he's created a wonderful library called Encog.  I was able to write a neural network application that solved the classic XOR problem in 20 minutes after installing the library.  What really amazes me is that he has an Encog Library for JavaScript which includes live samples on his website of Javascript + encog solving problems like the Traveling Salesman Problem and Conway's game of life, all in a browser!  This library can even use your GPU for the heavy lifting if that's your choice.  I would highly recommend that you at least check out his site and download the library to look at the examples.  You can find the Encog library here

 

Conclusion

This concludes my article on Machine learning resources for the .NET developer.  If you have any suggestions regarding a project that you know of or you are working on related to Machine learning in .NET, please don't hesitate to leave a comment and I will update the article to mention the project.  This article has shown that we as .NET developers have many resources available to us to use to implement Machine learning based solutions.  I appreciate your time in reading this article and I hope you found it useful.  Please subscribe to my RSS feed.  Until next time..

Buddy James



Comments (6) -

Seth Juarez
Seth Juarez
3/4/2013 11:11:59 AM #

Hey! I also made something: http://numl.net.

Buddy James
Buddy James
3/9/2013 4:22:53 AM #

Seth,

Thank you for contributing.  I'm going to add your project to my list.

The code looks great.  The site design is really awesome too!  Kudos!

Buddy James

terrell26
terrell26
3/21/2013 12:44:32 PM #

You seem to know a great deal about this subject

Buddy James
Buddy James
3/21/2013 5:33:28 PM #

I appreciate the compliment.  I'm very passionate about machine learning and I'm constantly learning.

Thanks again!

Buddy James

Don Syme
Don Syme
7/2/2013 4:46:37 AM #

Great links!

For F# developers (or C# developers adding an F# project to their solution) see also  

    http://fsharp.org/machine-learning

Buddy James
Buddy James
7/4/2013 8:37:45 PM #

Thanks for reading @Don.  I hear great things about F# and machine learning.  F# is on my list of languages to learn.  Thanks again!

Buddy

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About the author

My name is Buddy James.  I'm a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer from the Nashville, TN area.  I'm a Software Engineer, an author, a blogger (http://www.refactorthis.net), a mentor, a thought leader, a technologist, a data scientist, and a husband.  I enjoy working with design patterns, data mining, c#, WPF, Silverlight, WinRT, XAML, ASP.NET, python, CouchDB, RavenDB, Hadoop, Android(MonoDroid), iOS (MonoTouch), and Machine Learning. I love technology and I love to develop software, collect data, analyze the data, and learn from the data.  When I'm not coding,  I'm determined to make a difference in the world by using data and machine learning techniques. (follow me at @budbjames).  

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refactorthis.net | All posts tagged 'System.Threading.Thread'
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Introducing System.Threading.Tasks namespace. Exploring Action<>, Task<>, and the BusyIndicator.

Introduction The Microsoft .NET framework class library has provided many classes to facilitate complex programming tasks.  Topics like I/O, database management, and sockets were once incredibly tough to implement in languages like C, C++ and VB6.  When .NET was released, it brought with it many classes that abstracted these complex concepts and allowed the developer to concentrate on the business task at hand.  Multithreading is a way of providing asynchronous code execution and is an advanced concept that the framework has greatly simplified.  The System.Threading namespace The System.Threading namespace contains classes to abstract the complexities of multithreaded programming away from the developer.  Multithreading allows you to spawn worker threads to accomplish a unit of code execution.  System.Threading includes classes for synchronizing thread activities as well as accessing shared data .  These classes include; Mutex, Monitor, Interlocked, AutoResetEvent and more.   At the heart of the System.Threading namespace is the System.Threading.Thread class.  This class represents an asynchronous thread of code execution.  The Thread class accepts a delegate to specify a method that returns void and is to be executed independently in regards to the thread that spawned it.  This was one of the first methods of asynchronous programming that was offered to .NET developers. Here's an example using System; using System.Threading; namespace AnsycThread { class Program { delegate void LongRunningComputation(); private static void LongRunningMethod() { //Add a long running computation here for(var loopCounter=0; loopCounter < 100; loopCounter++) { Console.WriteLine(string.Format("The value = {0} ", loopCounter)); } Console.ReadKey(); } public static void Main(string[] args) { LongRunningComputation codeBlock = LongRunningMethod; Thread spawnedWorker = new Thread(new ThreadStart(codeBlock)); spawnedWorker.Start(); Console.WriteLine("The thread has started."); Console.ReadKey(); } } } This code is not very complicated, especially when compared to the same take written in a language like C or C++.  The System.Threading namespace has been around since the first release of the .NET framework. Enter the System.Threading.Tasks.Task class With .NET 4 came the System.Threading.Tasks namespace.  The idea of a Thread is a low level concept.  To think in terms of processes, threads, and thread management is to think at the level a computers processor.  The Task class was created to abstract these machine level ideas away from the developer so that we could achieve the same solutions that multithreading offers but from the viewpoint of task and workflows instead of threads and processors.  Much like the System.Threading.Thread class, the Task class is simply an asynchronous operation represented by a delegate.  However, there are some key differences.  For instance, there is a generic Taks<T> where T represents the return type of the delegate.  The Task class also handles a lot of the manual aspects of multithreaded programming such as picking a thread from the thread pool, as well as optimization with multicore/multiprocessor systems.  The System.Threading.Tasks namespace event offers functionality to support parallelism, but I'm getting ahead of myself. We are going to examine an example that makes use of the Task class as well as the System.Action class. The System.Action class represents a delegate that takes no arguments and returns void.  There is a generic version of the Action class as well.  It greatly simplifies the syntax of delegates. Consider the following example which is essentially the same as the prior example, except this example uses the Task and Action classes instead of Thread and delegate. namespace AnsycTask { class Program { private static void LongRunningMethod() { //Add a long running computation here for(var loopCounter=0; loopCounter < 100; loopCounter++) { Console.WriteLine(string.Format("The value = {0} ", loopCounter)); } Console.WriteLine("Press a key"); Console.ReadKey(); } public static void Main(string[] args) { Action codeBlock = LongRunningMethod; var spawnedWorker = new Task(codeBlock); spawnedWorker.Start(); Console.WriteLine("The thread has started."); Console.ReadKey(); } } } Accessing the UI from another thread using Dispatcher.BeginInvoke As you can see, multithreaded programming and allow you to complete multiple computing tasks simultaneously.  One of the draw backs of this approach is the fact that you can't directly access controls that were instantiated on the UI thread from your Tasks or Threads.  This is where the System.Windows.Dispatcher class can help.  When you call the BeginInvoke method of the Dispatcher class, it allows you to execute an asynchronous delegate on the same thread that the Dispatcher is associated.  I've included an example that uses the Task, Action, and Dispatcher classes in a WPF application.   This example will execute a Task when the user clicks a button.  The task will open a text file and read the contents of the file.  We use the ContinueWith method of the Task object to specify another Task to run when the first task has completed.  In the ContinueWith Task, we will use the Dispatcher class to set the IsBusy property on a BusyIndicator object.  The BusyIndicator class comes from the WPF Extended toolkit.   Here's the example.. <Window x:Class="FileReadBusyIndicator.MainWindow" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation" xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml" xmlns:extToolkit="clr-namespace:Xceed.Wpf.Toolkit;assembly=WPFToolkit.Extended" Title="MainWindow" Height="350" Width="525"> <extToolkit:BusyIndicator x:Name="busyIndicator"> <Grid> <Grid.RowDefinitions> <RowDefinition Height="78*" /> <RowDefinition Height="78*" /> <RowDefinition Height="106*" /> <RowDefinition Height="50*" /> </Grid.RowDefinitions> <Grid.ColumnDefinitions> <ColumnDefinition /> <ColumnDefinition /> </Grid.ColumnDefinitions> <Button Content="Load File" Grid.Column="1" Grid.Row="3" Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="118,9,0,0" Name="btnLoadFile" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="75" Click="btnLoadFile_Click" /> <TextBlock Height="45" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="32,15,0,0" Name="txtDescription" Text="Click the button below to asynchrnously load the contents of the text file specified in the textbox." VerticalAlignment="Top" Grid.ColumnSpan="2" Width="390" /> <TextBlock x:Name="txtContents" Grid.Row="1" ScrollViewer.CanContentScroll="True" Height="183" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="6,0,0,0" Text="rwaraadsadsdsasdafsdfsdafsdaf" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="491" Grid.ColumnSpan="2" Grid.RowSpan="2"> </TextBlock> </Grid> </extToolkit:BusyIndicator> </Window> And for the codebehind using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Text; using System.Windows; using System.Windows.Controls; using System.Windows.Data; using System.Windows.Documents; using System.Windows.Input; using System.Windows.Media; using System.Windows.Media.Imaging; using System.Windows.Navigation; using System.Windows.Shapes; using System.Threading.Tasks; using Microsoft.Practices.Unity; using System.IO; using System.ComponentModel; using System.Threading; using System.Windows.Threading; using Xceed.Wpf.Toolkit; namespace FileReadBusyIndicator { /// <summary> /// Interaction logic for MainWindow.xaml /// </summary> public partial class MainWindow : Window { private void LongRunningMethod() { //Add a long running computation here for (var loopCounter = 0; loopCounter < 100; loopCounter++) { using (var streamReader = new StreamReader(@"c:\development\openme.txt")) { var contents = streamReader.ReadToEnd(); Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(DispatcherPriority.Background, (SendOrPostCallback)delegate { this.txtContents.SetValue(TextBlock.TextProperty, contents); }, null); } } } public MainWindow() { InitializeComponent(); } private void btnLoadFile_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e) { busyIndicator.IsBusy = true; Action readFile = LongRunningMethod; var spawnedWorker = new Task(readFile); var completedTask = new Action<Task>((t) => { Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(DispatcherPriority.Background, (SendOrPostCallback)delegate { busyIndicator.SetValue(BusyIndicator.IsBusyProperty, false); }, null); }); spawnedWorker.ContinueWith(completedTask); spawnedWorker.Start(); } } } As you can see, the button's click event handler sets the BusyIndicator's IsBusy property to true which will show the ProgressBar.  Next the event handler will create a Task and set it to execute an action that points to a method to read the contents of a file.  The method will use the Dispatcher class to set the TextProperty dependency property of a textbox to the contents of the text file.  When the task completes its execution, it will proceed to execute the task specified in the ContinueWith method which uses the Dispatcher class to set the BusyIndicator's IsBusyProperty dependency property's value to false, causing the ProgressBar to be hidden. You can download the source to the example projects here AsyncTaskExample.zip (352.19 kb). This concludes my introduction to the System.Threading.Tasks namespace. Thanks for reading. ~/Buddy James   kick it on DotNetKicks.com    


About the author

My name is Buddy James.  I'm a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer from the Nashville, TN area.  I'm a Software Engineer, an author, a blogger (http://www.refactorthis.net), a mentor, a thought leader, a technologist, a data scientist, and a husband.  I enjoy working with design patterns, data mining, c#, WPF, Silverlight, WinRT, XAML, ASP.NET, python, CouchDB, RavenDB, Hadoop, Android(MonoDroid), iOS (MonoTouch), and Machine Learning. I love technology and I love to develop software, collect data, analyze the data, and learn from the data.  When I'm not coding,  I'm determined to make a difference in the world by using data and machine learning techniques. (follow me at @budbjames).  

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