Saving and loading checkpoints (basic)

Audience: All users

What is a checkpoint?

When a model is training, the performance changes as it continues to see more data. It is a best practice to save the state of a model throughout the training process. This gives you a version of the model, a checkpoint, at each key point during the development of the model. Once training has completed, use the checkpoint that corresponds to the best performance you found during the training process.

Checkpoints also enable your training to resume from where it was in case the training process is interrupted.

PyTorch Lightning checkpoints are fully usable in plain PyTorch.

Contents of a checkpoint

A Lightning checkpoint contains a dump of the model’s entire internal state. Unlike plain PyTorch, Lightning saves everything you need to restore a model even in the most complex distributed training environments.

Inside a Lightning checkpoint you’ll find:

  • 16-bit scaling factor (if using 16-bit precision training)

  • Current epoch

  • Global step

  • LightningModule’s state_dict

  • State of all optimizers

  • State of all learning rate schedulers

  • State of all callbacks (for stateful callbacks)

  • State of datamodule (for stateful datamodules)

  • The hyperparameters (init arguments) with which the model was created

  • The hyperparameters (init arguments) with which the datamodule was created

  • State of Loops

Save a checkpoint

Lightning automatically saves a checkpoint for you in your current working directory, with the state of your last training epoch. This makes sure you can resume training in case it was interrupted.

# simply by using the Trainer you get automatic checkpointing
trainer = Trainer()

To change the checkpoint path use the default_root_dir argument:

# saves checkpoints to 'some/path/' at every epoch end
trainer = Trainer(default_root_dir="some/path/")

LightningModule from checkpoint

To load a LightningModule along with its weights and hyperparameters use the following method:

model = MyLightningModule.load_from_checkpoint("/path/to/checkpoint.ckpt")

# disable randomness, dropout, etc...

# predict with the model
y_hat = model(x)

Save hyperparameters

The LightningModule allows you to automatically save all the hyperparameters passed to init simply by calling self.save_hyperparameters().

class MyLightningModule(LightningModule):
    def __init__(self, learning_rate, another_parameter, *args, **kwargs):

The hyperparameters are saved to the “hyper_parameters” key in the checkpoint

checkpoint = torch.load(checkpoint, map_location=lambda storage, loc: storage)
# {"learning_rate": the_value, "another_parameter": the_other_value}

The LightningModule also has access to the Hyperparameters

model = MyLightningModule.load_from_checkpoint("/path/to/checkpoint.ckpt")

Initialize with other parameters

If you used the self.save_hyperparameters() method in the __init__ method of the LightningModule, you can override these and initialize the model with different hyperparameters.

# if you train and save the model like this it will use these values when loading
# the weights. But you can overwrite this
LitModel(in_dim=32, out_dim=10)

# uses in_dim=32, out_dim=10
model = LitModel.load_from_checkpoint(PATH)

# uses in_dim=128, out_dim=10
model = LitModel.load_from_checkpoint(PATH, in_dim=128, out_dim=10)

In some cases, we may also pass entire PyTorch modules to the __init__ method, which you don’t want to save as hyperparameters due to their large size. If you didn’t call self.save_hyperparameters() or ignore parameters via save_hyperparameters(ignore=...), then you must pass the missing positional arguments or keyword arguments when calling load_from_checkpoint method:

class LitAutoencoder(L.LightningModule):
    def __init__(self, encoder, decoder):


model = LitAutoEncoder.load_from_checkpoint(PATH, encoder=encoder, decoder=decoder)

nn.Module from checkpoint

Lightning checkpoints are fully compatible with plain torch nn.Modules.

checkpoint = torch.load(CKPT_PATH)

For example, let’s pretend we created a LightningModule like so:

class Encoder(nn.Module):

class Decoder(nn.Module):

class Autoencoder(L.LightningModule):
    def __init__(self, encoder, decoder, *args, **kwargs):
        self.encoder = encoder
        self.decoder = decoder

autoencoder = Autoencoder(Encoder(), Decoder())

Once the autoencoder has trained, pull out the relevant weights for your torch nn.Module:

checkpoint = torch.load(CKPT_PATH)
encoder_weights = {k: v for k, v in checkpoint["state_dict"].items() if k.startswith("encoder.")}
decoder_weights = {k: v for k, v in checkpoint["state_dict"].items() if k.startswith("decoder.")}

Disable checkpointing

You can disable checkpointing by passing:

trainer = Trainer(enable_checkpointing=False)

Resume training state

If you don’t just want to load weights, but instead restore the full training, do the following:

model = LitModel()
trainer = Trainer()

# automatically restores model, epoch, step, LR schedulers, etc..., ckpt_path="some/path/to/my_checkpoint.ckpt")