Seth Barrett

Daily Blog Post: June 20th, 2023


June 20th, 2023

Deep Learning in Julia: Getting Started with Flux.jl

Welcome back to our series on Julia, the high-performance programming language designed for scientific computing. We have covered various aspects of the language, including setting up a coding environment, syntax and unique features, data science, machine learning techniques, optimization strategies, working with databases, building web applications, web scraping, data visualization, and time series forecasting. In this post, we will focus on deep learning in Julia, introducing the Flux.jl package and demonstrating how to build and train neural networks using this powerful framework.

Overview of Deep Learning Packages in Julia

There are several deep learning packages available in Julia, including:

  1. Flux.jl: A flexible and high-performance deep learning library that provides the necessary building blocks for creating, training, and evaluating neural networks.
  2. Knet.jl: A deep learning framework that emphasizes the use of custom and efficient GPU kernels for common neural network operations.
  3. ONNX.jl: A package that allows you to import and export neural networks using the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) format, making it easier to interoperate with other deep learning frameworks, such as TensorFlow and PyTorch.

In this post, we will focus on Flux.jl, which is one of the most popular and widely used deep learning libraries in the Julia ecosystem.

Getting Started with Flux.jl

To get started with Flux.jl, you first need to install the package:

import Pkg

Now, you can use the Chain function to create a simple feedforward neural network:

using Flux

model = Chain(
    Dense(10, 5, relu),
    Dense(5, 2),

The Chain function composes multiple layers into a single neural network, where the output of one layer is passed as input to the next layer. In this example, we create a network with two Dense layers followed by a softmax activation function, which is commonly used for multi-class classification tasks.

Training a Neural Network with Flux.jl

To train a neural network with Flux.jl, you first need to define a loss function, an optimization algorithm, and a dataset:

using Flux: crossentropy, ADAM

# Define a dummy dataset
X = rand(10, 100)
Y = rand(0:1, 2, 100)

# Define the loss function
loss(x, y) = crossentropy(model(x), y)

# Define the optimization algorithm
opt = ADAM()

In this example, we use the crossentropy loss function for multi-class classification and the ADAM optimization algorithm, which is a popular choice for training deep neural networks.

Next, you can use the train! function to train the neural network:

using Flux: train!

# Train the neural network for 10 epochs
for epoch in 1:10
    train!(loss, Flux.params(model), [(X, Y)], opt)

The train! function updates the parameters of the neural network using the specified optimization algorithm and loss function. In this example, we train the neural network for 10 epochs using the provided dataset.

Evaluating the Neural Network

After training the neural network, you can use the accuracy function to evaluate its performance on a test dataset:

using Flux: onecold

# Define a dummy test dataset
X_test = rand(10, 20)
Y_test = rand(0:1, 2, 20)

# Define the accuracy function
accuracy(x, y) = mean(onecold(model(x)) .== onecold(y))

# Compute the accuracy on the test dataset
test_accuracy = accuracy(X_test, Y_test)

println("Test accuracy: ", test_accuracy)

The accuracy function computes the proportion of correct predictions made by the neural network on the test dataset. In this example, we use the onecold function to convert the output probabilities of the neural network into class labels and compare them to the true labels.


In this post, we introduced deep learning in Julia using the Flux.jl package. We demonstrated how to build, train, and evaluate neural networks using this powerful and flexible framework. With Flux.jl, you can create complex deep learning models and train them efficiently using the high-performance capabilities of Julia.

As we continue our series on Julia, stay tuned for more posts covering a wide range of topics, from mathematical optimization and scientific applications to advanced numerical computing and parallel processing. We will explore various packages and techniques, equipping you with the knowledge and skills required to tackle complex problems in your domain.

Keep learning, and happy coding!