scan
– Looping in Theano¶
Guide¶
The scan functions provides the basic functionality needed to do loops in Theano. Scan comes with many whistles and bells, which we will introduce by way of examples.
Simple loop with accumulation: Computing ¶
Assume that, given k you want to get A**k
using a loop.
More precisely, if A is a tensor you want to compute
A**k
elemwise. The python/numpy code might look like:
result = 1
for i in range(k):
result = result * A
There are three things here that we need to handle: the initial value
assigned to result
, the accumulation of results in result
, and
the unchanging variable A
. Unchanging variables are passed to scan as
non_sequences
. Initialization occurs in outputs_info
, and the accumulation
happens automatically.
The equivalent Theano code would be:
import theano
import theano.tensor as T
k = T.iscalar("k")
A = T.vector("A")
# Symbolic description of the result
result, updates = theano.scan(fn=lambda prior_result, A: prior_result * A,
outputs_info=T.ones_like(A),
non_sequences=A,
n_steps=k)
# We only care about A**k, but scan has provided us with A**1 through A**k.
# Discard the values that we don't care about. Scan is smart enough to
# notice this and not waste memory saving them.
final_result = result[1]
# compiled function that returns A**k
power = theano.function(inputs=[A,k], outputs=final_result, updates=updates)
print(power(range(10),2))
print(power(range(10),4))
[ 0. 1. 4. 9. 16. 25. 36. 49. 64. 81.]
[ 0.00000000e+00 1.00000000e+00 1.60000000e+01 8.10000000e+01
2.56000000e+02 6.25000000e+02 1.29600000e+03 2.40100000e+03
4.09600000e+03 6.56100000e+03]
Let us go through the example line by line. What we did is first to
construct a function (using a lambda expression) that given prior_result
and
A
returns prior_result * A
. The order of parameters is fixed by scan:
the output of the prior call to fn
(or the initial value, initially)
is the first parameter, followed by all nonsequences.
Next we initialize the output as a tensor with same shape and dtype as A
,
filled with ones. We give A
to scan as a non sequence parameter and
specify the number of steps k
to iterate over our lambda expression.
Scan returns a tuple containing our result (result
) and a
dictionary of updates (empty in this case). Note that the result
is not a matrix, but a 3D tensor containing the value of A**k
for
each step. We want the last value (after k
steps) so we compile
a function to return just that. Note that there is an optimization, that
at compile time will detect that you are using just the last value of the
result and ensure that scan does not store all the intermediate values
that are used. So do not worry if A
and k
are large.
Iterating over the first dimension of a tensor: Calculating a polynomial¶
In addition to looping a fixed number of times, scan can iterate over
the leading dimension of tensors (similar to Python’s for x in a_list
).
The tensor(s) to be looped over should be provided to scan using the
sequence
keyword argument.
Here’s an example that builds a symbolic calculation of a polynomial from a list of its coefficients:
import numpy
coefficients = theano.tensor.vector("coefficients")
x = T.scalar("x")
max_coefficients_supported = 10000
# Generate the components of the polynomial
components, updates = theano.scan(fn=lambda coefficient, power, free_variable: coefficient * (free_variable ** power),
outputs_info=None,
sequences=[coefficients, theano.tensor.arange(max_coefficients_supported)],
non_sequences=x)
# Sum them up
polynomial = components.sum()
# Compile a function
calculate_polynomial = theano.function(inputs=[coefficients, x], outputs=polynomial)
# Test
test_coefficients = numpy.asarray([1, 0, 2], dtype=numpy.float32)
test_value = 3
print(calculate_polynomial(test_coefficients, test_value))
print(1.0 * (3 ** 0) + 0.0 * (3 ** 1) + 2.0 * (3 ** 2))
19.0
19.0
There are a few things to note here.
First, we calculate the polynomial by first generating each of the coefficients, and then summing them at the end. (We could also have accumulated them along the way, and then taken the last one, which would have been more memoryefficient, but this is an example.)
Second, there is no accumulation of results, we can set outputs_info
to None
. This indicates
to scan that it doesn’t need to pass the prior result to fn
.
The general order of function parameters to fn
is:
sequences (if any), prior result(s) (if needed), nonsequences (if any)
Third, there’s a handy trick used to simulate python’s enumerate
: simply include
theano.tensor.arange
to the sequences.
Fourth, given multiple sequences of uneven lengths, scan will truncate to the shortest of them. This makes it safe to pass a very long arange, which we need to do for generality, since arange must have its length specified at creation time.
Simple accumulation into a scalar, ditching lambda¶
Although this example would seem almost selfexplanatory, it stresses a
pitfall to be careful of: the initial output state that is supplied, that is
outputs_info
, must be of a shape similar to that of the output variable
generated at each iteration and moreover, it must not involve an implicit
downcast of the latter.
import numpy as np
import theano
import theano.tensor as T
up_to = T.iscalar("up_to")
# define a named function, rather than using lambda
def accumulate_by_adding(arange_val, sum_to_date):
return sum_to_date + arange_val
seq = T.arange(up_to)
# An unauthorized implicit downcast from the dtype of 'seq', to that of
# 'T.as_tensor_variable(0)' which is of dtype 'int8' by default would occur
# if this instruction were to be used instead of the next one:
# outputs_info = T.as_tensor_variable(0)
outputs_info = T.as_tensor_variable(np.asarray(0, seq.dtype))
scan_result, scan_updates = theano.scan(fn=accumulate_by_adding,
outputs_info=outputs_info,
sequences=seq)
triangular_sequence = theano.function(inputs=[up_to], outputs=scan_result)
# test
some_num = 15
print(triangular_sequence(some_num))
print([n * (n + 1) // 2 for n in range(some_num)])
[ 0 1 3 6 10 15 21 28 36 45 55 66 78 91 105]
[0, 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, 36, 45, 55, 66, 78, 91, 105]
Another simple example¶
Unlike some of the prior examples, this one is hard to reproduce except by using scan.
This takes a sequence of array indices, and values to place there, and a “model” output array (whose shape and dtype will be mimicked), and produces a sequence of arrays with the shape and dtype of the model, with all values set to zero except at the provided array indices.
location = T.imatrix("location")
values = T.vector("values")
output_model = T.matrix("output_model")
def set_value_at_position(a_location, a_value, output_model):
zeros = T.zeros_like(output_model)
zeros_subtensor = zeros[a_location[0], a_location[1]]
return T.set_subtensor(zeros_subtensor, a_value)
result, updates = theano.scan(fn=set_value_at_position,
outputs_info=None,
sequences=[location, values],
non_sequences=output_model)
assign_values_at_positions = theano.function(inputs=[location, values, output_model], outputs=result)
# test
test_locations = numpy.asarray([[1, 1], [2, 3]], dtype=numpy.int32)
test_values = numpy.asarray([42, 50], dtype=numpy.float32)
test_output_model = numpy.zeros((5, 5), dtype=numpy.float32)
print(assign_values_at_positions(test_locations, test_values, test_output_model))
[[[ 0. 0. 0. 0. 0.]
[ 0. 42. 0. 0. 0.]
[ 0. 0. 0. 0. 0.]
[ 0. 0. 0. 0. 0.]
[ 0. 0. 0. 0. 0.]]
[[ 0. 0. 0. 0. 0.]
[ 0. 0. 0. 0. 0.]
[ 0. 0. 0. 50. 0.]
[ 0. 0. 0. 0. 0.]
[ 0. 0. 0. 0. 0.]]]
This demonstrates that you can introduce new Theano variables into a scan function.
Multiple outputs, several taps values  Recurrent Neural Network with Scan¶
The examples above showed simple uses of scan. However, scan also supports referring not only to the prior result and the current sequence value, but also looking back more than one step.
This is needed, for example, to implement a RNN using scan. Assume that our RNN is defined as follows :
Note that this network is far from a classical recurrent neural network and might be useless. The reason we defined as such is to better illustrate the features of scan.
In this case we have a sequence over which we need to iterate u
,
and two outputs x
and y
. To implement this with scan we first
construct a function that computes one iteration step :
def oneStep(u_tm4, u_t, x_tm3, x_tm1, y_tm1, W, W_in_1, W_in_2, W_feedback, W_out):
x_t = T.tanh(theano.dot(x_tm1, W) + \
theano.dot(u_t, W_in_1) + \
theano.dot(u_tm4, W_in_2) + \
theano.dot(y_tm1, W_feedback))
y_t = theano.dot(x_tm3, W_out)
return [x_t, y_t]
As naming convention for the variables we used a_tmb
to mean a
at
tb
and a_tpb
to be a
at t+b
.
Note the order in which the parameters are given, and in which the
result is returned. Try to respect chronological order among
the taps ( time slices of sequences or outputs) used. For scan is crucial only
for the variables representing the different time taps to be in the same order
as the one in which these taps are given. Also, not only taps should respect
an order, but also variables, since this is how scan figures out what should
be represented by what. Given that we have all
the Theano variables needed we construct our RNN as follows :
W = T.matrix()
W_in_1 = T.matrix()
W_in_2 = T.matrix()
W_feedback = T.matrix()
W_out = T.matrix()
u = T.matrix() # it is a sequence of vectors
x0 = T.matrix() # initial state of x has to be a matrix, since
# it has to cover x[3]
y0 = T.vector() # y0 is just a vector since scan has only to provide
# y[1]
([x_vals, y_vals], updates) = theano.scan(fn=oneStep,
sequences=dict(input=u, taps=[4,0]),
outputs_info=[dict(initial=x0, taps=[3,1]), y0],
non_sequences=[W, W_in_1, W_in_2, W_feedback, W_out],
strict=True)
# for second input y, scan adds 1 in output_taps by default
Now x_vals
and y_vals
are symbolic variables pointing to the
sequence of x and y values generated by iterating over u. The
sequence_taps
, outputs_taps
give to scan information about what
slices are exactly needed. Note that if we want to use x[tk]
we do
not need to also have x[t(k1)], x[t(k2)],..
, but when applying
the compiled function, the numpy array given to represent this sequence
should be large enough to cover this values. Assume that we compile the
above function, and we give as u
the array uvals = [0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]
.
By abusing notations, scan will consider uvals[0]
as u[4]
, and
will start scanning from uvals[4]
towards the end.
Conditional ending of Scan¶
Scan can also be used as a repeatuntil
block. In such a case scan
will stop when either the maximal number of iteration is reached, or the
provided condition evaluates to True.
For an example, we will compute all powers of two smaller then some provided
value max_value
.
def power_of_2(previous_power, max_value):
return previous_power*2, theano.scan_module.until(previous_power*2 > max_value)
max_value = T.scalar()
values, _ = theano.scan(power_of_2,
outputs_info = T.constant(1.),
non_sequences = max_value,
n_steps = 1024)
f = theano.function([max_value], values)
print(f(45))
[ 2. 4. 8. 16. 32. 64.]
As you can see, in order to terminate on condition, the only thing required
is that the inner function power_of_2
to return also the condition
wrapped in the class theano.scan_module.until
. The condition has to be
expressed in terms of the arguments of the inner function (in this case
previous_power
and max_value
).
As a rule, scan always expects the condition to be the last thing returned by the inner function, otherwise an error will be raised.
Reducing Scan’s memory usage¶
This section presents the scan_checkpoints
function. In short, this
function reduces the memory usage of scan (at the cost of more computation
time) by not keeping in memory all the intermediate time steps of the loop,
and recomputing them when computing the gradients. This function is therefore
only useful if you need to compute the gradient of the output of scan with
respect to its inputs, and shouldn’t be used otherwise.
Before going more into the details, here are its current limitations:
It only works in the case where only the output of the last time step is needed, like when computing
A**k
or in an encoderdecoder setup.It only accepts sequences of the same length.
If
n_steps
is specified, it has the same value as the length of any sequences.It is singlyrecurrent, meaning that only the previous time step can be used to compute the current one (i.e.
h[t]
can only depend onh[t1]
). In other words,taps
can not be used insequences
andoutputs_info
.
Often, in order to be able to compute the gradients through scan operations,
Theano needs to keep in memory some intermediate computations of scan. This
can sometimes use a prohibitively large amount of memory.
scan_checkpoints
allows to discard some of those intermediate steps and
recompute them again when computing the gradients. Its save_every_N
argument
specifies the number time steps to do without storing the intermediate results.
For example, save_every_N = 4
will reduce the memory usage by 4, while having
to recompute 3/4 time steps of the forward loop. Since the grad of scan is
about 6x slower than the forward, a ~20% slowdown is expected. Apart from the
save_every_N
argument and the current limitations, the usage of this function
is similar to the classic scan
function.
Optimizing Scan’s performance¶
This section covers some ways to improve performance of a Theano function using Scan.
Minimizing Scan usage¶
Scan makes it possible to define simple and compact graphs that can do the same work as much larger and more complicated graphs. However, it comes with a significant overhead. As such, when performance is the objective, a good rule of thumb is to perform as much of the computation as possible outside of Scan. This may have the effect of increasing memory usage but can also reduce the overhead introduces by using Scan.
Explicitly passing inputs of the inner function to scan¶
It is possible, inside of Scan, to use variables previously defined outside of
the Scan without explicitly passing them as inputs to the Scan. However, it is
often more efficient to explicitly pass them as nonsequence inputs instead.
Section Using shared variables  Gibbs sampling provides an explanation for this and
section Using shared variables  the strict flag describes the strict flag, a tool that Scan
provides to help ensure that the inputs to the function inside Scan have all
been provided as explicit inputs to the scan()
function.
Deactivating garbage collecting in Scan¶
Deactivating the garbage collection for Scan can allow it to reuse memory between executions instead of always having to allocate new memory. This can improve performance at the cost of increased memory usage. By default, Scan reuses memory between iterations of the same execution but frees the memory after the last iteration.
There are two ways to achieve this, using the Theano flag
config.scan.allow_gc
and setting it to False, or using the argument
allow_gc
of the function theano.scan() and set it to False (when a value
is not provided for this argument, the value of the flag
config.scan.allow_gc
is used).
Graph optimizations¶
This one is simple but still worth pointing out. Theano is able to automatically recognize and optimize many computation patterns. However, there are patterns that Theano doesn’t optimize because doing so would change the user interface (such as merging shared variables together into a single one, for instance). Additionally, Theano doesn’t catch every case that it could optimize and so it remains useful for performance that the user defines an efficient graph in the first place. This is also the case, and sometimes even more so, for the graph inside of Scan. This is because it will be executed many times for every execution of the Theano function that contains it.
The LSTM tutorial on DeepLearning.net provides an example of an optimization that Theano cannot perform. Instead of performing many matrix multiplications between matrix and each of the shared matrices , , and , the matrices , are merged into a single shared matrix and the graph performs a single larger matrix multiplication between and . The resulting matrix is then sliced to obtain the results of that the small individual matrix multiplications would have produced. This optimization replaces several small and inefficient matrix multiplications by a single larger one and thus improves performance at the cost of a potentially higher memory usage.
reference¶
This module provides the Scan Op.
Scanning is a general form of recurrence, which can be used for looping. The idea is that you scan a function along some input sequence, producing an output at each timestep that can be seen (but not modified) by the function at the next timestep. (Technically, the function can see the previous K timesteps of your outputs and L time steps (from the past and future) of your inputs.
So for example, sum()
could be computed by scanning the z+x_i
function over a list, given an initial state of z=0
.
Special cases:
A reduce operation can be performed by returning only the last output of a
scan
.A map operation can be performed by applying a function that ignores previous steps of the outputs.
Often a forloop can be expressed as a scan()
operation, and scan
is
the closest that theano comes to looping. The advantage of using scan
over for loops is that it allows the number of iterations to be a part of
the symbolic graph.
The Scan Op should typically be used by calling any of the following
functions: scan()
, map()
, reduce()
, foldl()
,
foldr()
.

theano.
map
(fn, sequences, non_sequences=None, truncate_gradient= 1, go_backwards=False, mode=None, name=None)[source]¶ Similar behaviour as python’s map.
 Parameters
fn – The function that
map
applies at each iteration step (seescan
for more info).sequences – List of sequences over which
map
iterates (seescan
for more info).non_sequences – List of arguments passed to
fn
.map
will not iterate over these arguments (seescan
for more info).truncate_gradient – See
scan
.go_backwards (bool) – Decides the direction of iteration. True means that sequences are parsed from the end towards the beginning, while False is the other way around.
mode – See
scan
.name – See
scan
.

theano.
reduce
(fn, sequences, outputs_info, non_sequences=None, go_backwards=False, mode=None, name=None)[source]¶ Similar behaviour as python’s reduce.
 Parameters
fn – The function that
reduce
applies at each iteration step (seescan
for more info).sequences – List of sequences over which
reduce
iterates (seescan
for more info).outputs_info – List of dictionaries describing the outputs of reduce (see
scan
for more info).non_sequences –
 List of arguments passed to
fn
.reduce
will not iterate over these arguments (see
scan
for more info).
 List of arguments passed to
go_backwards (bool) – Decides the direction of iteration. True means that sequences are parsed from the end towards the beginning, while False is the other way around.
mode – See
scan
.name – See
scan
.

theano.
foldl
(fn, sequences, outputs_info, non_sequences=None, mode=None, name=None)[source]¶ Similar behaviour as haskell’s foldl.
 Parameters
fn – The function that
foldl
applies at each iteration step (seescan
for more info).sequences – List of sequences over which
foldl
iterates (seescan
for more info).outputs_info – List of dictionaries describing the outputs of reduce (see
scan
for more info).non_sequences – List of arguments passed to fn.
foldl
will not iterate over these arguments (seescan
for more info).mode – See
scan
.name – See
scan
.

theano.
foldr
(fn, sequences, outputs_info, non_sequences=None, mode=None, name=None)[source]¶ Similar behaviour as haskell’ foldr.
 Parameters
fn – The function that
foldr
applies at each iteration step (seescan
for more info).sequences – List of sequences over which
foldr
iterates (seescan
for more info).outputs_info – List of dictionaries describing the outputs of reduce (see
scan
for more info).non_sequences – List of arguments passed to fn.
foldr
will not iterate over these arguments (seescan
for more info).mode – See
scan
.name – See
scan
.

theano.
scan
(fn, sequences=None, outputs_info=None, non_sequences=None, n_steps=None, truncate_gradient= 1, go_backwards=False, mode=None, name=None, profile=False, allow_gc=None, strict=False, return_list=False)[source]¶ This function constructs and applies a Scan op to the provided arguments.
 Parameters
fn –
fn
is a function that describes the operations involved in one step ofscan
.fn
should construct variables describing the output of one iteration step. It should expect as input theano variables representing all the slices of the input sequences and previous values of the outputs, as well as all other arguments given to scan asnon_sequences
. The order in which scan passes these variables tofn
is the following :all time slices of the first sequence
all time slices of the second sequence
…
all time slices of the last sequence
all past slices of the first output
all past slices of the second output
…
all past slices of the last output
 all other arguments (the list given as non_sequences to
scan)
The order of the sequences is the same as the one in the list sequences given to scan. The order of the outputs is the same as the order of
outputs_info
. For any sequence or output the order of the time slices is the same as the one in which they have been given as taps. For example if one writes the following :scan(fn, sequences = [ dict(input= Sequence1, taps = [3,2,1]) , Sequence2 , dict(input = Sequence3, taps = 3) ] , outputs_info = [ dict(initial = Output1, taps = [3,5]) , dict(initial = Output2, taps = None) , Output3 ] , non_sequences = [ Argument1, Argument2])
fn
should expect the following arguments in this given order:Sequence1[t3]
Sequence1[t+2]
Sequence1[t1]
Sequence2[t]
Sequence3[t+3]
Output1[t3]
Output1[t5]
Output3[t1]
Argument1
Argument2
The list of
non_sequences
can also contain shared variables used in the function, thoughscan
is able to figure those out on its own so they can be skipped. For the clarity of the code we recommend though to provide them to scan. To some extendscan
can also figure out othernon sequences
(not shared) even if not passed to scan (but used by fn). A simple example of this would be :import theano.tensor as TT W = TT.matrix() W_2 = W**2 def f(x): return TT.dot(x,W_2)
The function is expected to return two things. One is a list of outputs ordered in the same order as
outputs_info
, with the difference that there should be only one output variable per output initial state (even if no tap value is used). Secondly fn should return an update dictionary (that tells how to update any shared variable after each iteration step). The dictionary can optionally be given as a list of tuples. There is no constraint on the order of these two list,fn
can return either(outputs_list, update_dictionary)
or(update_dictionary, outputs_list)
or just one of the two (in case the other is empty).To use
scan
as a while loop, the user needs to change the functionfn
such that also a stopping condition is returned. To do so, he/she needs to wrap the condition in anuntil
class. The condition should be returned as a third element, for example:... return [y1_t, y2_t], {x:x+1}, theano.scan_module.until(x < 50)
Note that a number of steps (considered in here as the maximum number of steps ) is still required even though a condition is passed (and it is used to allocate memory if needed). = {}):
sequences –
sequences
is the list of Theano variables or dictionaries describing the sequencesscan
has to iterate over. If a sequence is given as wrapped in a dictionary, then a set of optional information can be provided about the sequence. The dictionary should have the following keys:input
(mandatory) – Theano variable representing the sequence.taps
– Temporal taps of the sequence required byfn
. They are provided as a list of integers, where a valuek
impiles that at iteration stept
scan will pass tofn
the slicet+k
. Default value is[0]
Any Theano variable in the list
sequences
is automatically wrapped into a dictionary wheretaps
is set to[0]
outputs_info –
outputs_info
is the list of Theano variables or dictionaries describing the initial state of the outputs computed recurrently. When this initial states are given as dictionary optional information can be provided about the output corresponding to these initial states. The dictionary should have the following keys:initial
– Theano variable that represents the initial state of a given output. In case the output is not computed recursively (think of a map) and does not require an initial state this field can be skipped. Given that (only) the previous time step of the output is used byfn
, the initial state should have the same shape as the output and should not involve a downcast of the data type of the output. If multiple time taps are used, the initial state should have one extra dimension that should cover all the possible taps. For example if we use5
,2
and1
as past taps, at step 0,fn
will require (by an abuse of notation)output[5]
,output[2]
andoutput[1]
. This will be given by the initial state, which in this case should have the shape (5,)+output.shape. If this variable containing the initial state is calledinit_y
theninit_y[0]
corresponds tooutput[5]
.init_y[1]
correponds tooutput[4]
,init_y[2]
corresponds tooutput[3]
,init_y[3]
coresponds tooutput[2]
,init_y[4]
corresponds tooutput[1]
. While this order might seem strange, it comes natural from splitting an array at a given point. Assume that we have a arrayx
, and we choosek
to be time step0
. Then our initial state would bex[:k]
, while the output will bex[k:]
. Looking at this split, elements inx[:k]
are ordered exactly like those ininit_y
.taps
– Temporal taps of the output that will be pass tofn
. They are provided as a list of negative integers, where a valuek
implies that at iteration stept
scan will pass tofn
the slicet+k
.
scan
will follow this logic if partial information is given:If an output is not wrapped in a dictionary,
scan
will wrap it in one assuming that you use only the last step of the output (i.e. it makes your tap value list equal to [1]).If you wrap an output in a dictionary and you do not provide any taps but you provide an initial state it will assume that you are using only a tap value of 1.
If you wrap an output in a dictionary but you do not provide any initial state, it assumes that you are not using any form of taps.
If you provide a
None
instead of a variable or a empty dictionaryscan
assumes that you will not use any taps for this output (like for example in case of a map)
If
outputs_info
is an empty list or None,scan
assumes that no tap is used for any of the outputs. If information is provided just for a subset of the outputs an exception is raised (because there is no convention on how scan should map the provided information to the outputs offn
)non_sequences –
non_sequences
is the list of arguments that are passed tofn
at each steps. One can opt to exclude variable used infn
from this list as long as they are part of the computational graph, though for clarity we encourage not to do so.n_steps –
n_steps
is the number of steps to iterate given as an int or Theano scalar. If any of the input sequences do not have enough elements, scan will raise an error. If the value is 0 the outputs will have 0 rows. If n_steps is not provided,scan
will figure out the amount of steps it should run given its input sequences.n_steps
< 0 is not supported anymore.truncate_gradient –
truncate_gradient
is the number of steps to use in truncated BPTT. If you compute gradients through a scan op, they are computed using backpropagation through time. By providing a different value then 1, you choose to use truncated BPTT instead of classical BPTT, where you go for onlytruncate_gradient
number of steps back in time.go_backwards –
go_backwards
is a flag indicating ifscan
should go backwards through the sequences. If you think of each sequence as indexed by time, making this flag True would mean thatscan
goes back in time, namely that for any sequence it starts from the end and goes towards 0.name – When profiling
scan
, it is crucial to provide a name for any instance ofscan
. The profiler will produce an overall profile of your code as well as profiles for the computation of one step of each instance ofscan
. Thename
of the instance appears in those profiles and can greatly help to disambiguate information.mode – It is recommended to leave this argument to None, especially when profiling
scan
(otherwise the results are not going to be accurate). If you prefer the computations of one step ofscan
to be done differently then the entire function, you can use this parameter to describe how the computations in this loop are done (seetheano.function
for details about possible values and their meaning).profile – Flag or string. If true, or different from the empty string, a profile object will be created and attached to the inner graph of scan. In case
profile
is True, the profile object will have the name of the scan instance, otherwise it will have the passed string. Profile object collect (and print) information only when running the inner graph with the new cvm linker ( with default modes, other linkers this argument is useless)allow_gc –
Set the value of allow gc for the internal graph of scan. If set to None, this will use the value of config.scan.allow_gc.
The full scan behavior related to allocation is determined by this value and the Theano flag allow_gc. If the flag allow_gc is True (default) and this scan parameter allow_gc is False (default), then we let scan allocate all intermediate memory on the first iteration, those are not garbage collected them during that first iteration (this is determined by the scan allow_gc). This speed up allocation of the following iteration. But we free all those temp allocation at the end of all iterations (this is what the Theano flag allow_gc mean).
If you use preallocate and this scan is on GPU, the speed up from the scan allow_gc is small. If you are missing memory, disable the scan allow_gc could help you run graph that request much memory.
strict – If true, all the shared variables used in
fn
must be provided as a part ofnon_sequences
orsequences
.return_list – If True, will always return a list, even if there is only 1 output.
 Returns
Tuple of the form (outputs, updates);
outputs
is either a Theano variable or a list of Theano variables representing the outputs ofscan
(in the same order as inoutputs_info
).updates
is a subclass of dictionary specifying the update rules for all shared variables used in scan. This dictionary should be passed totheano.function
when you compile your function. The change compared to a normal dictionary is that we validate that keys are SharedVariable and addition of those dictionary are validated to be consistent. Return type
tuple

theano.
scan_checkpoints
(fn, sequences=[], outputs_info=None, non_sequences=[], name='checkpointscan_fn', n_steps=None, save_every_N=10, padding=True)[source]¶ Scan function that uses less memory, but is more restrictive.
In
scan()
, if you compute the gradient of the output with respect to the input, you will have to store the intermediate results at each time step, which can be prohibitively huge. This function allows to dosave_every_N
steps of forward computations without storing the intermediate results, and to recompute them during the gradient computation.Notes
Current assumptions:
Every sequence has the same length.
If
n_steps
is specified, it has the same value as the length of any sequence.The value of
save_every_N
divides the number of steps the scan will run without remainder.Only singlyrecurrent and nonrecurrent outputs are used. No multiple recurrences.
Only the last timestep of any output will ever be used.
 Parameters
fn –
fn
is a function that describes the operations involved in one step ofscan
. See the documentation ofscan()
for more information.sequences –
sequences
is the list of Theano variables or dictionaries describing the sequencesscan
has to iterate over. All sequences must be the same length in this version ofscan
.outputs_info –
outputs_info
is the list of Theano variables or dictionaries describing the initial state of the outputs computed recurrently.non_sequences –
non_sequences
is the list of arguments that are passed tofn
at each steps. One can opt to exclude variable used infn
from this list as long as they are part of the computational graph, though for clarity we encourage not to do so.n_steps –
n_steps
is the number of steps to iterate given as an int or Theano scalar (> 0). If any of the input sequences do not have enough elements, scan will raise an error. If n_steps is not provided,scan
will figure out the amount of steps it should run given its input sequences.save_every_N –
save_every_N
is the number of steps to go without storing the computations ofscan
(ie they will have to be recomputed during the gradient computation).padding – If the length of the sequences is not a multiple of
save_every_N
, the sequences will be zero padded to make this version ofscan
work properly, but will also result in a memory copy. It can be avoided by settingpadding
to False, but you need to make sure the length of the sequences is a multple ofsave_every_N
.
 Returns
Tuple of the form
(outputs, updates)
as inscan()
, but with a small change: It only contain the output at eachsave_every_N
step. The time steps that are not returned by this function will be recomputed during the gradient computation (if any). Return type
tuple
See also
scan()
Looping in Theano.