5 Effective Methods to Create a Dataset of Raw Strings from The Iliad Using TensorFlow and Python

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: When working with classic literature like Homer’s Iliad in deep learning, preprocessing the text into a suitable format is crucial for training models. Specifically, the task is to extract raw strings from the Iliad dataset, which potentially comes as a structured text file, and transform them into a TensorFlow dataset. For example, we might want to convert a plain .txt file into TensorFlow’s tf.data.Dataset objects for each line or sentence.

Method 1: Reading and Transforming Text Data

This method involves loading the text file using Python’s built-in open() function and then converting the lines of text into a TensorFlow Dataset using tf.data.TextLineDataset. This TensorFlow dataset can then be iterated over for further processing or training a model.

Here’s an example:

import tensorflow as tf

file_path = 'iliad.txt'
text_line_dataset = tf.data.TextLineDataset(file_path)

for line in text_line_dataset.take(5):

Output: First five lines of the Iliad dataset as raw strings.

The code snippet opens the ‘iliad.txt’ file and creates a dataset where each element corresponds to a line in the text. Using take(5), it prints the first five lines. This approach is straightforward and ensures that the text data is ready for further preprocessing steps like tokenization or embedding.

Method 2: Batching and Tokenizing Strings

After creating a dataset of raw strings, the next step is often to batch and tokenize these strings for input into a model. TensorFlow offers the tf.data.Dataset.batch method to batch data together and tokenizer functions within tf.keras.preprocessing.text.Tokenizer to tokenize the sentences.

Here’s an example:

from tensorflow.keras.preprocessing.text import Tokenizer

tokenizer = Tokenizer()
tokenized_data = tokenizer.texts_to_sequences(text_line_dataset)

batched_data = tf.data.Dataset.from_tensor_slices(tokenized_data).batch(32)

for batch in batched_data.take(1):

Output: The first batch of tokenized data from the Iliad dataset.

The snippet first uses the tokenizer to learn the vocabulary and then to tokenize the raw text from the dataset. Lastly, it converts the list of tokenized sentences into a TensorFlow Dataset and batches them. This method is essential when preparing data for models expecting sequences of integers as input.

Method 3: Filtering Unwanted Characters

Sometimes the text data contains unwanted characters or symbols that are not useful for training. This method involves using TensorFlow’s tf.strings.regex_replace function to filter out these characters from the dataset.

Here’s an example:

def clean_text(line):
    return tf.strings.regex_replace(line, "[^a-zA-Z0-9' ]", '')

clean_dataset = text_line_dataset.map(clean_text)

for line in clean_dataset.take(5):

Output: First five lines of the Iliad dataset with unwanted characters removed.

In the example, a function clean_text is defined that replaces non-alphanumeric characters with an empty string. This function is then applied to each element in the dataset with the map() function. It’s a simple yet powerful method for cleaning datasets before they are used for training.

Method 4: Shuffling the Dataset for Randomization

To avoid bias during training, it’s a good practice to shuffle the dataset. TensorFlow provides the tf.data.Dataset.shuffle function, which ensures that the dataset is randomized, hence aiding in creating a model that generalizes better.

Here’s an example:

shuffled_dataset = text_line_dataset.shuffle(buffer_size=10000)

for line in shuffled_dataset.take(5):

Output: First five lines of the Iliad dataset after shuffling.

The code snippet demonstrates how to shuffle a dataset with a specified buffer size. By using shuffle with a buffer_size large enough to hold the data, we aid in the randomization process, which is crucial for unbiased training in machine learning.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Combining All Steps in a Pipeline

A one-liner approach involves chaining all the required transformations together to form a preprocessing pipeline, culminating in a clean, tokenized, batched, and shuffled dataset ready for model training.

Here’s an example:

dataset = (tf.data.TextLineDataset(file_path)

Output: A processed and tokenized TensorFlow dataset.

This single pipeline creates a clean dataset by chaining the strip, clean_text, shuffle, and batch methods before tokenizing each batch. It exemplifies the beauty of TensorFlow’s data API that allows for concise and efficient data preprocessing.


  • Method 1: Reading and Transforming Text Data. Strengths: Direct and easy to understand method to load text data. Weaknesses: Does not include preprocessing like tokenization or cleaning.
  • Method 2: Batching and Tokenizing Strings. Strengths: Prepares data for neural network input. Weaknesses: Assumes the tokenizer has already been fit to the data.
  • Method 3: Filtering Unwanted Characters. Strengths: Cleans the text data making it more uniform. Weaknesses: May remove necessary punctuation if not carefully setup.
  • Method 4: Shuffling the Dataset for Randomization. Strengths: Reduces bias during training. Weaknesses: Buffer size needs to be balanced for memory efficiency and proper shuffling.
  • Method 5: Combining All Steps. Strengths: Streamlines data pre-processing in a single, efficient pipeline. Weaknesses: Reducing process to one line can obscure understanding of individual steps for beginners.