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The Rise of Single-Purpose ML Frameworks

Pete Warden describes a phenomenon:

The GGML framework is just over a year old, but it has already changed the whole landscape of machine learning. Before GGML, an engineer wanting to run an existing ML model would start with a general purpose framework like PyTorch, find a data file containing the model architecture and weights, and then figure out the right sequence of calls to load and execute it. Today it’s much more likely that they will pick a model-specific code library like whisper.cpp or llama.cpp, based on GGML.

This isn’t the whole story though, because there are also popular model-specific libraries like llama2.cpp or llama.c that don’t use GGML, so this movement clearly isn’t based on the qualities of just one framework. The best term I’ve been able to come up with to describe these libraries is “disposable”. I know that might sound derogatory, but I don’t mean it like that, I actually think it’s the key to all their virtues! They’ve limited their scope to just a few models, focus on inference or fine-tuning rather than training from scratch, and overall try to do a few things very well. They’re not designed to last forever, as models change they’re likely to be replaced by newer versions, but they’re very good at what they do.

Pete calls them disposable ML frameworks, though I’d call them single-purpose frameworks to contrast with general-purpose ML frameworks like PyTorch and TensorFlow.