Machine Learning Services Updates

Umachandar Jayachandran and team have been busy.  First, they announced a preview of SQL Server ML Services in Azure SQL Database:

In-database Machine Learning support was added in SQL Server 2016 and we are now bringing the same functionality to Azure SQL Database. You can now train and score machine learning models in Azure SQL Database and the predictions can be exposed to any application using your database, easily and seamlessly.

The preview functionality allows you to train and score machine learning models using data that fits in memory (in R data frame). Please note that the amount of memory available for R scripts execution depends on the edition of the Azure SQL database and cannot be modified.

No Python support there yet, but it’s upcoming.  Second, we can use the PREDICT function in Azure SQL Database:

Today we are announcing the general availability of the native PREDICT Transact-SQL function in Azure SQL Database. The PREDICT function allows you to perform scoring in real-time using certain RevoScaleR or revoscalepy models in a SQL query without invoking the R or Python runtime.

The PREDICT function support was added in SQL Server 2017. It is a table-valued function that takes a RevoScaleR or revoscalepy model & data (in the form of a table or view or query) as inputs and generates predictions based on the machine learning model. More details of the PREDICT function can be found here.

There are a limited number of models which support PREDICT—things like linear and logistic regression, RevoScaleR’s fast decision trees, etc.  If you have this type of model, however, the predictions stay within SQL Server and end up being much faster than going out to R.

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