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PyTorch to MXNet

This cheatsheet serves as a quick reference for PyTorch users.

Pytorch Tensor and MXNet NDArray

Tensor operation

We document PyTorch function names that are different than MXNet NDArray

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
Element-wise inverse cosine x.acos() or torch.acos(x) nd.arccos(x)
Batch Matrix product and accumulation torch.addbmm(M, batch1, batch2) nd.linalg_gemm(M, batch1, batch2) Leading n-2 dim are reduced
Element-wise division of t1, t2, multiply v, and add t torch.addcdiv(t, v, t1, t2) t + v*(t1/t2)
Matrix product and accumulation torch.addmm(M, mat1, mat2) nd.linalg_gemm(M, mat1, mat2)
Outer-product of two vector add a matrix m.addr(vec1, vec2) Not available
Element-wise applies function x.apply_(calllable) Not available, but there is nd.custom(x, 'op')
Element-wise inverse sine x.asin() or torch.asin(x) nd.arcsin(x)
Element-wise inverse tangent x.atan() or torch.atan(x) nd.arctan(x)
Tangent of two tensor x.atan2(y) or torch.atan2(x, y) Not available
batch matrix product x.bmm(y) or torch.bmm(x, x) nd.linalg_gemm2(x, y)
Draws a sample from bernoulli distribution x.bernoulli() Not available
Fills a tensor with number drawn from Cauchy distribution x.cauchy_() Not available
Splits a tensor in a given dim x.chunk(num_of_chunk) nd.split(x, num_outputs=num_of_chunk)
Limits the values of a tensor to between min and max x.clamp(min, max) nd.clip(x, min, max)
Returns a copy of the tensor x.clone() x.copy()
Cross product x.cross(y) Not available
Cumulative product along an axis x.cumprod(1) Not available
Cumulative sum along an axis x.cumsum(1) Not available
Address of the first element x.data_ptr() Not available
Creates a diagonal tensor x.diag() Not available
Computes norm of a tensor x.dist() nd.norm(x) Only calculate L2 norm
Computes Gauss error function x.erf() Not available
Broadcasts/Expands tensor to new shape x.expand(3,4) x.broadcast_to([3, 4])
Fills a tensor with samples drawn from exponential distribution x.exponential_() nd.random_exponential()
Element-wise mod x.fmod(3) nd.module(x, 3)
Fractional portion of a tensor x.frac() x - nd.trunc(x)
Gathers values along an axis specified by dim torch.gather(x, 1, torch.LongTensor([[0,0],[1,0]])) nd.gather_nd(x, nd.array([[[0,0],[1,1]],[[0,0],[1,0]]]))
Solves least square & least norm B.gels(A) Not available
Draws from geometirc distribution x.geometric_(p) Not available
Device context of a tensor print(x) will print which device x is on x.context
Repeats tensor x.repeat(4,2) x.tile(4,2)
Data type of a tensor x.type() x.dtype
Scatter torch.zeros(2, 4).scatter_(1, torch.LongTensor([[2], [3]]), 1.23) nd.scatter_nd(nd.array([1.23,1.23]), nd.array([[0,1],[2,3]]), (2,4))
Returns the shape of a tensor x.size() x.shape
Number of elements in a tensor x.numel() x.size
Returns this tensor as a NumPy ndarray x.numpy() x.asnumpy()
Eigendecomposition for symmetric matrix e, v = a.symeig() v, e = nd.linalg.syevd(a)
Transpose x.t() x.T
Sample uniformly torch.uniform_() nd.sample_uniform()
Inserts a new dimesion x.unsqueeze() nd.expand_dims(x)
Reshape x.view(16) x.reshape((16,))
Veiw as a specified tensor x.view_as(y) x.reshape_like(y)
Returns a copy of the tensor after casting to a specified type x.type(type) x.astype(dtype)
Copies the value of one tensor to another dst.copy_(src) src.copyto(dst)
Returns a zero tensor with specified shape x = torch.zeros(2,3) x = nd.zeros((2,3))
Returns a one tensor with specified shape x = torch.ones(2,3) x = nd.ones((2,3)
Returns a Tensor filled with the scalar value 1, with the same size as input y = torch.ones_like(x) y = nd.ones_like(x)



Just like Tensor, MXNet NDArray can be copied to and operated on GPU. This is done by specifying context.

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
Copy to GPU y = torch.FloatTensor(1).cuda() y = mx.nd.ones((1,), ctx=mx.gpu(0))
Convert to numpy array x = y.cpu().numpy() x = y.asnumpy()
Context scope with torch.cuda.device(1):
    y= torch.cuda.FloatTensor(1)
with mx.gpu(1):
    y = mx.nd.ones((3,5))


Just like Tensor, MXNet NDArray can be copied across multiple GPUs.

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
Copy from GPU 0 to GPU 1 x = torch.cuda.FloatTensor(1)
x = mx.nd.ones((1,), ctx=mx.gpu(0))
Copy Tensor/NDArray on different GPUs y.copy_(x) x.copyto(y)


variable wrapper vs autograd scope

Autograd package of PyTorch/MXNet enables automatic differentiation of Tensor/NDArray.

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
Recording computation x = Variable(torch.FloatTensor(1), requires_grad=True)
y = x * 2
x = mx.nd.ones((1,))
with mx.autograd.record():
    y = x * 2

scope override (pause, train_mode, predict_mode)

Some operators (Dropout, BatchNorm, etc) behave differently in training and making predictions. This can be controlled with train_mode and predict_mode scope in MXNet. Pause scope is for codes that do not need gradients to be calculated.

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
Scope override Not available x = mx.nd.ones((1,))
with autograd.train_mode():
    y = mx.nd.Dropout(x)
    with autograd.predict_mode():
        z = mx.nd.Dropout(y)

w = mx.nd.ones((1,))
with autograd.record():
    y = x * w
    with autograd.pause():
        w += w.grad

batch-end synchronization is needed

MXNet uses lazy evaluation to achieve superior performance. The Python thread just pushes the operations into the backend engine and then returns. In training phase batch-end synchronization is needed, e.g, asnumpy(), wait_to_read(), metric.update(...).

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
Batch-end synchronization Not available for (data, label) in train_data:
    with autograd.record():
        output = net(data)
        L = loss(output, label)
    metric.update([label], [output])

Pytorch module and Gluon blocks

for new block definition, gluon needs name_scope

name_scope coerces gluon to give each parameter an appropriate name, indicating which model it belongs to.

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
New block definition class Net(torch.nn.Module):
    def __init__(self, D_in, D_out):
        super(Net, self).__init__()
        self.linear = torch.nn.Linear(D_in, D_out)
    def forward(self, x):
        return self.linear(x)
class Net(mx.gluon.Block):
    def __init__(self, D_in, D_out):
        super(Net, self).__init__()
        with self.name_scope():
            self.dense=mx.gluon.nn.Dense(D_out, in_units=D_in)
    def forward(self, x):
        return self.dense(x)

Parameter and Initializer

when creating new layers in pytorch, you do not need to specify its parameter initializer, and different layers have different default initializer. When you create new layers in gluon, you can specify its initializer or just leave it none. The parameters will finish initializing after calling net.initialize(<init method>) and all parameters will be initialized in init method except those layers whose initializer specified.

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
Get all parameters net.parameters() net.collect_params()
Initialize network Not Available net.initialize(mx.init.Xavier())
Specify layer initializer layer = torch.nn.Linear(20, 10)
torch.nn.init.normal(layer.weight, 0, 0.01)
layer = mx.gluon.nn.Dense(10, weight_initializer=mx.init.Normal(0.01))

usage of existing blocks look alike

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
Usage of existing blocks y=net(x) y=net(x)

HybridBlock can be hybridized, and allows partial-shape info

HybridBlock supports forwarding with both Symbol and NDArray. After hybridized, HybridBlock will create a symbolic graph representing the forward computation and cache it. Most of the built-in blocks (Dense, Conv2D, MaxPool2D, BatchNorm, etc.) are HybridBlocks.

Instead of explicitly declaring the number of inputs to a layer, we can simply state the number of outputs. The shape will be inferred on the fly once the network is provided with some input.

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
Not Available net = mx.gluon.nn.HybridSequential()
with net.name_scope():


SymbolBlock can construct block from symbol. This is useful for using pre-trained models as feature extractors.

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
SymbolBlock Not Available alexnet =, prefix='model_')
out = alexnet(inputs)
internals = out.get_internals()
outputs = [internals['model_dense0_relu_fwd_output']]
feat_model = gluon.SymbolBlock(outputs, inputs, params=alexnet.collect_params())

Pytorch optimizer vs Gluon Trainer

for gluon zero_grad is not necessary most of the time

zero_grad in optimizer(Pytorch) or Trainer(Gluon) clears the gradients of all parameters. In gluon, there is no need to clear the gradients every batch if grad_req = 'write'(default).

Function Pytorch MXNet Gluon
clear the gradients optm = torch.optim.SGD(model.parameters(), lr=0.1)
loss_fn(model(input), target).backward()
trainer = gluon.Trainer(net.collect_params(), 'sgd', {'learning_rate': 0.1})
with autograd.record():
    loss = loss_fn(net(data), label)

Multi-GPU training

Function Pytorch MXNet Gluon
data parallelism net = torch.nn.DataParallel(model, device_ids=[0, 1, 2])
output = net(data)
ctx = [mx.gpu(i) for i in range(3)]
data = gluon.utils.split_and_load(data, ctx)
label = gluon.utils.split_and_load(label, ctx)
with autograd.record():
    losses = [loss(net(X), Y) for X, Y in zip(data, label)]
for l in losses:

Distributed training

Function Pytorch MXNet Gluon
distributed data parallelism torch.distributed.init_process_group(...)
model = torch.nn.parallel.distributedDataParallel(model, ...)
store = kv.create('dist')
trainer = gluon.Trainer(net.collect_params(), ..., kvstore=store)


MXNet has pre-defined metrics

Gluon provide several predefined metrics which can online evaluate the performance of a learned model.

Function Pytorch MXNet Gluon
metric Not available metric = mx.metric.Accuracy()
with autograd.record():
    output = net(data)
    L = loss(ouput, label)
    loss(ouput, label).backward()
metric.update(label, output)

Data visualization

tensorboardX(PyTorch) and dmlc-tensorboard(Gluon) can be used to visualize your network and plot quantitative metrics about the execution of your graph.

Function PyTorch MXNet Gluon
visualization writer = tensorboardX.SummaryWriter()
for name, param in model.named_parameters():
    grad = param.clone().cpu().data.numpy()
    writer.add_histogram(name, grad, n_iter)
summary_writer = tensorboard.FileWriter('./logs/')
for name, param in net.collect_params():
    grad = param.grad.asnumpy().flatten()
    s = tensorboard.summary.histogram(name, grad)

I/O and deploy

Data loading

Dataset and DataLoader are the basic components for loading data.

Class Pytorch MXNet Gluon
Dataset holding arrays, label_tensor), label_array)
Data loader, batch_size=1, shuffle=False, sampler=None, batch_sampler=None, num_workers=0, collate_fn=<function default_collate>, drop_last=False), batch_size=None, shuffle=False, sampler=None, last_batch='keep', batch_sampler=None, batchify_fn=None, num_workers=0)
Sequentially applied sampler
Random order sampler

Some commonly used datasets for computer vision are provided in package.

Class Pytorch MXNet Gluon
MNIST handwritten digits dataset. torchvision.datasets.MNIST
CIFAR10 Dataset. torchvision.datasets.CIFAR10
CIFAR100 Dataset. torchvision.datasets.CIFAR100
A generic data loader where the images are arranged in folders. torchvision.datasets.ImageFolder(root, transform=None, target_transform=None, loader=<function default_loader>), flag, transform=None)


Serialization and De-Serialization are achieved by calling save_parameters and load_parameters.

Class Pytorch MXNet Gluon
Save model parameters, filename) model.save_parameters(filename)
Load parameters the_model.load_state_dict(torch.load(PATH)) model.load_parameters(filename, ctx, allow_missing=False, ignore_extra=False)