Building TensorFlow Neural Networks On Spark With Keras

Jules Damji has an example of using the PyCharm IDE to use Keras to build TensorFlow neural network models on the Databricks MLflow library:

Our example in the video is a simple Keras network, modified from Keras Model Examples, that creates a simple multi-layer binary classification model with a couple of hidden and dropout layers and respective activation functions. Binary classification is a common machine learning task applied widely to classify images or text into two classes. For example, an image is a cat or dog; or a tweet is positive or negative in sentiment; and whether mail is spam or not spam.

But the point here is not so much to demonstrate a complex neural network model as to show the ease with which you can develop with Keras and TensorFlow, log an MLflow run, and experiment—all within PyCharm on your laptop.

Click through for the video and explanation of the process.

Scatterplots For Multivariate Analysis

Neil Saunders declutters a complicated visual with a simple scatterplot:

Sydney’s congestion at ‘tipping point’ blares the headline and to illustrate, an interactive chart with bars for city population densities, points for commute times and of course, dual-axes.

Yuck. OK, I guess it does show that Sydney is one of three cities that are low density, but have comparable average commute times to higher-density cities. But if you’re plotting commute time versus population density…doesn’t a different kind of chart come to mind first? y versus x. C’mon.

Let’s explore.

Simple is typically better, and that adage holds here.

Calculating Future Revenue Streams With Phasing

Matt Allington walks us through a somewhat complicated scenario with income stream projections but inconsistent monthly payout rates:

The first thing I decided to do was work out which was the first month of the policy.  I used LOOKUPVALUE to do this because the Calendar table was not connected to the policy table.  Instead of returning the actual month name, I returned the unique MonthID from my calendar table.  I ALWAYS load a unique MonthID in my calendar tables as they are REALLY useful. In short this column is an integer, starting at 1 and incrementing by 1 for each month in the table.  So starting in Jan, after 3 full years the MonthID will be 36.

Pol First Month = LOOKUPVALUE ( 'Calendar'[Month Index], 'Calendar'[Date], MAX ( Policies[Pol Date] )
)

After writing this measure (and all subsequent measures), I placed the measure in the pivot table shown below.  This pivot table has the policy date from the policy table on rows and the YYMM from the Calendar table on columns.  I did this for a very important reason. I knew this would be the way I needed to see the final results and therefore I needed to make sure all measures returned the expected outcome once this layout was used.  And don’t think I wrote the all the formulas correctly to achieve this outcome the first time.  In fact I made plenty of mistakes.  But the point is I wouldn’t have known they were mistakes if I didn’t place the result in a pivot table like the one below.

It’s a good example of breaking apart a fairly complicated concept and rethinking equations as set operations in DAX.

Creating An Inline Table-Valued Function In SQL Server

Jeanne Combrinck looks at inline table-valued functions in SQL Server:

Lets start off with what is a table-valued function (TVF)? A TVF is a dynamic table produced at the time of execution, depending on parameters. Like a view, a TVF creates a result set only when it’s executed, but, unlike a view, it can be parameterized.

You get two types of TVFs, an Inline Table-Valued Function (ITVFs) and Multi-statement Table-Valued Function (MTVFs). I find them easy to remember, think of the “I” in ITVF as 1 (single statement) and the “M” in MTVF as “many” (multiple statements).

As you can imagine, a TVF produces a result set that can be used as a virtual table or view. Yes, you can actually select data from a TVF, or join it with some other tables, views, or even other TVFs. In this post I will go into more detail on ITVFs.

In my experience, the best part about using inline table-valued function is the 3-9x performance improvement you get when removing them and inlining their code.  It’s a great idea but the performance cost is just too high for me.

Creating SQL Server Images In Azure Container Registry

Andrew Pruski shows us how to save Docker container images to the Azure Container Registry using Powershell:

Awesome! Our custom image is in our ACR!

But has it worked? Has it really? Oh ye of little faith…

I guess the only way to find out is to run a container! So let’s run a Azure Container Instance from our new image.

Spoilers:  it worked.

De-bracketing SSMS Scripts

Andy Mallon hates brackets and likes regular expressions:

There are cases where you need brackets, such as having objects with “illegal” characters in them. These rules apply to database names, column names, and all object names. (I’m going to simply refer to “object names” for simplicity, though I concede that “identifier” might be a more correct term.) If you want to put a space or hyphen in an object name, then you’re going to have to use [brackets] to “quote” the name every time you reference it. Similarly, you can’t start an object name with a number, even though it’s a valid character in any other position of the object name: 8Ball is an illegal object name, but AM2 is perfectly OK. There are a bunch of other scenarios, but I won’t go into them all.

If SMO tried to only use [brackets] where necessary, that would likely be a complicated and error-prone branch of code. It’s safer to always include [brackets], and there’s no time when [brackets] will break your code.

Read on to see how Andy gets rid of those pesky things.

Monitoring Query Store Space usage

Erin Stellato has a process which alerts her when query store space utilization reaches a defined threshold:

For those of you not familiar with the Query Store settings, please check out my post which lists each one, the defaults, and what I would recommend for values and why.  When discussing MAX_STORAGE_SIZE_MB, I mention monitoring via sys.database_query_store_options or Extended Events.  As much as I love Extended Events, there isn’t an event that fires based on a threshold exceeded.  The event related to size is query_store_disk_size_over_limit, and it fires when the space used exceeds the value for MAX_STORAGE_SIZE_MB, which is too late.  I want to take action before the maximum storage size is hit.

Therefore, the best option I’ve found is to create an Agent job which runs on a regular basis (maybe every four or six hours initially) that checks current_storage_size_mb in sys.database_query_store_options and calculates the space used by Query Store as a percentage of the total allocated, and then if that exceeds the threshold you set, send an email.  The code that you can put into an Agent job is below.  Please note you want to make sure the job runs in the context of the user database with Query Store enabled (as sys.database_query_store_options is a database view), and configure the threshold to a value that makes sense to your MAX_STORAGE_SIZE_MB.  In my experience, 80% has been a good starting point, but feel free to adjust as you see fit!

Click through for the script.

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