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America's Public Bible for Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud

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Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud

Machine-Learning Detection of Biblical Quotations across Library of Congress Collections via Cloud Computing

Lincoln Mullen, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University

Go Reference

Go tests

cchc-crawler container

cchc-itemmd container

cchc-language-detector container

cchc-predictor container

cchc-ctrl container

About this repository

This repository contains code for one of the projects that are part of the Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud initiative at the Library of Congress Labs.

The purpose of this project is to experiment with cloud computing approaches to computational history, using the Library of Congress's digital collections (specifically, the full text collections). This experiment has three parts. First, it uses the loc.gov APIs whenever possible. Rather than use a batch processing model, it can be run continuously to receive updates (and process them) as the Library of Congress adds new materials. Second, this application is containerized and split apart into several microservices so that it can be run on a variety of hardware (e.g., a laptop, a server, cloud compute, a high-performance cluster). And third, it allows the user to both crawl the Library of Congress digital collections and write jobs that can do work on the collection. There are two included job processors: one to look for multilingual documents in the Library of Congress and the other to look for biblical quotations (as in America's Public Bible).

License

All code is copyrighted © 2021–2022 Lincoln Mullen. Code is licensed CC0 1.0 Universal.

Using the application

This application has a few main sections:

  • A PostgreSQL database, into which the metadata from the Library of Congress API is stored, along with the results of running jobs on the collections.
  • A crawler and item metadata fetcher which get information from the loc.gov API.
  • Services which run jobs (i.e., do useful work) on the collection.
  • Some utilities for managing the application.

All of these parts of the application are containerized, though you are strongly encouraged to use your own, non-containerized database.

When using Docker Compose for orchestration, the application is split up into several profiles which do discrete kinds of work. These are the profiles (specific to Docker Compose), as well as the description of each of the services/containers associated with them.

  • Compose profile: db. An optional profile to set up a database
    • Compose service: db; Docker image: postgres:14. A PostgreSQL database
    • Compose service: adminer; Docker image: adminer. A database management client
  • Compose profile: api. Fetches metadata from the loc.gov API
    • Compose service: crawler; Docker image: ghcr.io/lmullen/cchc-crawler. Discovers items from the API.
    • Compose service: itemmd; Docker image: ghcr.io/lmullen/cchc-itemmd. Fetches the full metadata for items that have been discovered by the crawler.
  • Compose profile: ctrl
    • Compose service: ctrl; Docker image: ghcr.io/lmullen/cchc-ctrl. Runs administrative scripts on the database.
  • Compose profile: languages
    • Compose service: language-detector; Docker image: ghcr.io/lmullen/cchc-language-detector. Guess the language of each sentence in full-text items, to look for multilingual documents.
  • Compose profile: quotations
    • Compose service: predictor; Docker image: ghcr.io/lmullen/cchc-predictor. Identifies biblical quotations in full-text items.

If you are not using Docker Compose to run these containers, you can still use this organization conceptually to understand the pieces of the application. See below for a description of each of the services.

Settings

Application-wide settings are set with environment variables.

  • CCHC_DBSTR: This is the URL to the PostgreSQL database. This setting is not optional, and each service will fail without it. It should take the following form: postgres://user:password@hostname:portnum/databasename?sslmode=disable
  • CCHC_LOGLEVEL: This is an optional setting to control the verbosity of logging. You can set it to any of the following values: error, warn, info, debug. The default level is info.
  • CCHC_VERSION: This is an optional setting to control which version of the containers you get when pulling them. By default, the value used will be release, which will get only known-good releases. Only set or change this if you really know that you should. Setting this to main will get containers from the main branch.

Docker

You can run each of the parts of this application using Docker. The Docker images for the different services are provided in the GitHub container registry. For instance, you could run all of the services on a single machine using docker compose, as explained below. But you could also run the crawler and item metadata fetcher continuously in the cloud, then scale up your job processors on a high-performance cluster periodically. (Details of using Docker for deploying this software are beyond the scope of this project.)

Docker Compose is a way of orchestrating many containers. This repository contains a docker-compose.yml file which defines the relationship between the containers. The remainder of this documentation assumes you are using Docker Compose (v2.2 or greater) to run the application. This comes standard with recent versions of Docker Desktop, and it can also be installed on servers. You should be able to run the command docker compose version to check your installation.

Cloning the repository / pulling the containers

You can get this application's source code by cloning the repository.

When you navigate in your terminal to the root of the repository, you can get run the necessary commands using Docker Compose. Use the following command to pull all the necessary containers:

docker compose --profile db --profile cchc pull

PostgreSQL database

All metadata, application state (such as the job queues) and results are stored in a PostgreSQL database. While any version from v12 up should work, this application has been tested the most on PostgreSQL 14.1.

You are strongly encouraged to use a database whose data is stored in a way that you can understand and access if you care at all about the data stored in it. While this application does provide a Docker container which stores its data in a Docker volume, persisting data in Docker requires considerable understanding to do correctly, as does securing the database.

Your database should have a user with permissions to create schemas and tables. The actual migrations will be handled by cchc-ctrl service (see below). You can pass the database connection information into the application using the CCHC_DBSTR environment variable as detailed above.

If you would like to use a containerized database, then you can start one with Docker Compose.

docker compose --profile db up --detach

If you set the CCHC_DB_PASSWORD environment variable before the first time you run the database service, it will set the PostgreSQL user password to that value. Otherwise, it will use the default password below.

These are the configuration settings for the database:

  • User name: cchc
  • Database name: cchc
  • Password: cchcdbpass
  • Host: localhost (assuming you are running this on the same machine)
  • Port: 5433 (a non-default port to avoid conflicting with other PostgreSQL instances)

If you are using this containerized database, then you can set the database connection string to an environment variable as follows:

export CCHC_DBSTR=postgres://cchc:cchcdbpass@localhost:5433/cchc?sslmode=disable

Otherwise, use that connection string as a template.

You can use whatever client you prefer to connect to the database. However, if you use the containerized database, then a basic client is started for you. You can access this service at http://localhost:8888/. Use the following settings to login:

Adminer login

Initializing the database and using cchc-ctrl

Regardless of whether you use the containerized database or host your own, you will need to migrate the database to the current schema. You can do this, as well as other maintenance tasks, using the ctrl service.

First check that you can successfully connect to the database.

docker compose run --rm ctrl /cchc-ctrl ping

Then you can run the migrations:

docker compose run --rm ctrl /cchc-ctrl migrate

Currently, this utility supports the following actions:

  • help: Help about any command
  • migrate: Migrate the database to the current schema
  • ping: Check connection to the database
  • reset: Reset the database (deletes all data)
  • retry-jobs Retry skipped and failed jobs

For full documentation on how to use this utility, consult the help.

docker compose run --rm ctrl /cchc-ctrl help

Crawler and item metadata fetcher

Two services (crawler and itemmd) identify items from the Library of Congress API and then fetch the full metadata. These services are intended to be run continuously. The crawler will periodically (currently, once every two days) check for updates to the Library of Congress digital collections, and the item metadata fetcher will get the full metadata for each item.

They save the resulting metadata in several database tables in the public schema, including collections (digital collections from LOC), items (specific items, which are associated with one or more collections), and resources and files, which track the files associated with items. The api column on the items table contains the full JSON response for each item from the API, and can be used to get other metadata fields which have not been extracted into specific columns.

To start these services, run the following:

docker compose --profile api up --detach

Note that in the documentation below the --scale flag is suggested for using more than one worker at a time. Do not attempt to scale the crawler or item metadata fetcher beyond one instance each. The loc.gov API is strictly rate limited, and using more than one replica for these services will result in your IP address being blocked.

Language detector

This service seeks to identify the language of each sentence in the full-text items, and thus identify multilingual documents in the collections.

To start this service, run the following:

docker compose --profile languages up --detach

By default, this service will start with a single worker. If, however, you want to start with more than one worker, you can use the --scale flag. For example, this invocation will start six workers.

docker compose --profile languages up --scale language-detector=6

Results as stored in the results.languages table. This service keeps track of jobs in the jobs.fulltext table. This computed result can then be compared to the language field in the items table. Items that do not have full text will be skipped. You can delete skipped or failed jobs with the cchc-ctrl service.

This is an example of a service which does useful work on the Library of Congress collections. Note that this particular service is written entirely in Go. This service could be used as a template for creating a similar service in Go.

Quotation detector

This service seeks to identify biblical quotations in full-text items.

To start this service, run the following:

docker compose --profile quotations up --detach

By default, this service will start with a single worker. If, however, you want to start with more than one worker, you can use the --scale flag. For example, this invocation will start six workers.

docker compose --profile quotations up --scale predictor=4

Results as stored in the results.biblical_quotations table. This service keeps track of jobs in the jobs.fulltext table. Items that do not have full text will be skipped. You can delete skipped or failed jobs with the cchc-ctrl service.

This is an example of a service which does useful work on the Library of Congress collections. Note that this particular service uses Go to collect a set of items to be processed, then shells out to an R script to run a machine-learning model. This service could be used as an example of running an arbitrary script in a different language on a batch of data.

Miscellaneous

Details about the status of the application can be found in the stats schema of the database. The most important are these two:

  • The stats.item_status view will show many items have been crawled, and of those how many have had their full item metadata fetched.
  • The stats.job_status_ft view will show how many jobs are running, skipped, failed, and available.

To stop and remove a particular service, you can use the stop or down functions in Docker compose. To stop and remove all services (including the database), run the following:

docker compose --profile db --profile cchc down

While containers are running or stopped (but not after they have been removed) you can see the logs by running the following:

docker compose logs

You can see the logs for a particular service by running the following, changing the name for the service you want.

docker compose logs itemmd

For developers

Code organization and compilation

General purpose libraries (e.g., for interacting with the loc.gov API or with the database), are contained in the common folder.

Specific services are each in their own directories in the project root, and each has a Dockerfile associated with it.

You can compile all of the code inside Docker containers by running make build or this invocation:

docker compose --profile cchc build

If you prefer to build the Go applications directly, after cloning the repository run go mod download in the root. Then you can run go build or go install in any of the directories for the different services.

Documentation

Documentation for all of the Go packages are available at pkg.go.dev.

Note that most of the programs outside of the common packages do not have functions that are intended for general reuse, and so those symbols are not imported. Thus, the documentation does not show up at the Go package documentation website. However, most functions in those programs are documented in the source code.

Testing

You can run the included tests with go test -v ./... in the root of the repository. (Or you can run make test: the Makefile contains a number of helpful shortcuts.) Tests are also continuously run using GitHub Actions.

Note that integration tests use Gnomock, so you must have Docker running on your system run most tests. Gnomock should pull the necessary containers the first time you run the tests.

Running your own work (or, to Go or not to Go)

Almost everything in this repository is written in Go, with the exception of the biblical quotations prediction model adapted from the America's Public Bible source code, which is written in R.

Go is a great language. You should learn it. 😉

If you did want to write your own program that did work on the database, then you should start with the language detector source code as a model. It is intended to be a comparatively simple kind of processing written in pure Go. If you wanted to shell out to a different program, that is always harder, but the quotation detector does that.

But don't overthink it. It is really the database (continuously updated if you wish) that is the output of this program. You should be able to run just the crawler and the item metadata fetcher and ignore the rest of the services. And you should be able to interact with that database however you wish with your own program, since every language has drivers for PostgreSQL. For instance, if you wanted to run work by pulling items from the the database, but then writing the results out to a CSV, nothing is stopping you. Have fun.