5 Best Ways to Standardize Data With TensorFlow in Python

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: Data standardization is a crucial preprocessing step in machine learning pipelines. It rescales the features of your data so they have a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1. For instance, if we have an array of raw data points [10, 20, 30], after standardization, we expect the data to be transformed into an array with values indicative of how many standard deviations away from the mean each point is.

Method 1: Using TensorFlow’s built-in Scaling Functions

TensorFlow offers built-in functions such as tf.keras.layers.experimental.preprocessing.Normalization for data normalization and standardization. This method automatically calculates the mean and variance of the input data, allowing for easy and efficient data standardization.

Here’s an example:

import tensorflow as tf

# Sample data
data = [[10.0], [20.0], [30.0]]

# Create a Normalization layer and set its internal state using the sample data
normalizer = tf.keras.layers.experimental.preprocessing.Normalization()

# Standardize the data
normalized_data = normalizer(data)


 [ 0. ]
 [ 1.2247449]]

This code snipped demonstrates how to integrate TensorFlow’s normalization capabilities directly into your data pipeline. By using the Normalization layer, the data is transformed to have a mean of 0 and standard deviation of 1, which is ideal for many machine learning algorithms.

Method 2: Standardizing Data Using TensorFlow and Numpy

Another approach involves using TensorFlow in combination with Numpy. This method leverages Numpy’s robust functions to compute the mean and standard deviation and then uses TensorFlow operations to standardize the data.

Here’s an example:

import tensorflow as tf
import numpy as np

# Sample data
data = np.array([10.0, 20.0, 30.0])

# Calculate mean and standard deviation
data_mean = np.mean(data)
data_std = np.std(data)

# Standardize the data
standardized_data = tf.map_fn(lambda x: (x - data_mean) / data_std, data)


 [ 0.        ]
 [ 1.22474487]]

By incorporating Numpy with TensorFlow, you can take advantage of both libraries’ strengths. In this example, Numpy handles the calculation of the mean and standard deviation, while TensorFlow’s map_fn function applies the transformation efficiently to each element in the data.

Method 3: Using TensorFlow Data API for Standardization

TensorFlow’s Data API makes it possible to build complex input pipelines from simple, reusable pieces. This includes seamlessly integrating data standardization as part of the data pipeline, especially useful when working with large datasets.

Here’s an example:

import tensorflow as tf

# Sample dataset
dataset = tf.data.Dataset.from_tensor_slices([10.0, 20.0, 30.0])

# Define a standardization function
def standardize_data(x):
    return (x - tf.reduce_mean(x)) / tf.math.reduce_std(x)

# Apply the standardization function to the dataset
standardized_dataset = dataset.map(standardize_data)


[-1.2247449, 0.0, 1.2247449]

This code snippet utilizes TensorFlow’s Data API to streamline data preprocessing, allowing for the standardization function to be applied as the data is being iterated through. This is efficient for batch processing and scalable for large datasets.

Method 4: Custom Standardization Layer in TensorFlow’s Keras API

Creating a custom layer in TensorFlow’s Keras API for standardization is a robust way to integrate preprocessing directly into your models. This ensures that the data is consistently standardized during both training and inference.

Here’s an example:

import tensorflow as tf

# Define a custom standardization layer class
class StandardizationLayer(tf.keras.layers.Layer):
    def __init__(self, **kwargs):
        super(StandardizationLayer, self).__init__(**kwargs)
    def call(self, inputs):
        return (inputs - tf.reduce_mean(inputs)) / tf.math.reduce_std(inputs)

# Sample data
data = tf.constant([[10.0], [20.0], [30.0]])

# Create a model with the custom standardization layer
model = tf.keras.Sequential([

# Apply the model to the data
standardized_data = model(data)


 [ 0.        ]
 [ 1.22474487]]

This custom layer, StandardizationLayer, can be added to your Keras model directly. It flexibly standardizes incoming data, and because it becomes part of the model, it simplifies deployment and reduces the risk of mismatched preprocessing between training and inference.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: TensorFlow Transform for Large-scale Data

TensorFlow Transform is a library for preprocessing data with TensorFlow. It’s designed to be used at scale, from the desktop to the cloud, and can be especially powerful when used within a TensorFlow-serving environment to ensure that the same transformations apply during training and serving.

Here’s an example:

import tensorflow_transform as tft

# Assume 'raw_data' is the input tensor for raw data
standardized_data = tft.scale_to_z_score(raw_data)

This code snippet succinctly demonstrates how TensorFlow Transform (tft) can be utilized to standardize a dataset to a z-score, which is a one-liner solution for leveraging TensorFlow’s capabilities to standardize data at scale.


  • Method 1: TensorFlow’s built-in Scaling Functions. This method is straightforward and directly incorporates TensorFlow’s built-in functionality. Strengths: Easy to use and integrate; no need for manual calculations. Weaknesses: Less flexibility compared to custom solutions.
  • Method 2: TensorFlow with Numpy. It uses the calculation power of Numpy for statistics and TensorFlow for data handling. Strengths: Harnesses the strength of both libraries; highly customizable. Weaknesses: More verbose and potentially less efficient than using TensorFlow alone.
  • Method 3: TensorFlow Data API. It’s efficient for large datasets and is integrated directly into data pipelines. Strengths: Great for batch processing and big data. Weaknesses: Potentially overengineered for smaller, simpler datasets.
  • Method 4: Custom Standardization Layer. This method provides consistent processing and is part of the model architecture. Strengths: Ensures consistent standardization; useful for complex models. Weaknesses: Could be overkill for simple projects; more complex to implement.
  • Method 5: TensorFlow Transform. Ideal for large-scale data pipelines, especially maintaining consistency between training and serving environments. Strengths: Scalable and consistent. Weaknesses: May require a significant setup for smaller projects; learning curve.