Domain(domain, **kwargs) Meta-function for instantiating a domain from different sources
BaseDomain([cache, n_jobs]) The structured objects domain.
MiniZincDomain(domain_file[, feature_var, …]) Base class for domains encoded in minizinc.

This package provides the base classes to import domains into Pyconstruct, as well as the Pyconstruct shared templating library. A domain in Pyconstruct is an object that is capable of interpreting the structure of some input and output objects, and solve inference problems with these objects. The class BaseDomain defines the basic interface that a domain should satisfy. An implementation of BaseDomain has to be able to perform inference through the infer method.

Input and output objects can literally be any Python object, its the domain’s job to interpret them and perform inference over them. Learning algorithms in Pyconstruct are built to be agnostic to the type of objects they are dealing with.

The default type of Domains that Pyconstruct provides are MiniZincDomains, i.e. domains encoded with the MiniZinc constraint programming language. When a domain is encoded in MiniZinc, it can be imported into Pyconstruct as easily as:

from pyconstruct import Domain
domain = Domain('domain.pmzn')

When using a MiniZincDomain, input and output objects are encoded as Python dictionaries. Each object has a number of “attributes”, i.e. key-value pairs representing properties of the object. When doing inference, input attributes are translated into dzn assignments to pass to MiniZinc. In a MiniZinc domain, input attributes are bound to unassigned dzn parameters. Output attributes can be, instead, any optimization variable (usually the independent ones). MiniZinc is very flexible, as it allows us to solve several different inference problems using the same framework.

By default, Pyconstruct assumes that domains are written into a variant of MiniZinc defined by the PyMzn library. Essentially, PyMzn extends MiniZinc allowing to embed some templating code inside MiniZinc files. The templating code is processed by the Jinja2 library. This is a powerful way to include conditional boilerplate code, depending on the inference problem we are solving. This allows us to write the domain once in a single pmzn file and use it to solve different inference problems. Pyconstruct includes a shared library of pmzn modules, containing several helper “macros” that can be used inside a domain file. A typical domain file looks like this:

{% from 'globals.pmzn' import domain, solve %}
{% from 'linear.pmzn' import linear_model %}

{% call domain(problem) %}
    int: some_input_variable;
    var int: some_output_variable;

    % Some constraint
    constraint some_output_variable <= some_input_variable;

    {% if problem == 'loss_augmented_map' %}
        int: true_output_variable = {{ y_true['some_output_variable']|dzn }};
    {% endif %}
{% endcall %}

{% call linear_model(problem, params, n_features='1') %}
    % Some features
    some_input_variable * some_output_variable
{% endcall %}

{% set loss %}
    % Some loss function
    abs(true_output_variable - some_output_variable)
{% endset %}

{{ solve(problem, loss=loss) }}

As you can see, here we make use of some of the macros in the Pyconstruct shared templating library to define the domain. The first lines are used to import some macros, which are then used in the rest of the file.

The first call is to the domain macro, which accepts a problem string. By default, each time inference is called by Pyconstruct, a variable problem containing the current inference problem is set into the global scope of Jinja2, so it can be used like in this context. Inside the call to the domain macro, we define the actual domain, including input parameters, output variables and constraints. Here are also defined the true variables for “loss_augmente_map” problems (see below).

The call to the linear_model macro is a convenience that compiles into:

int: N_FEATURES = 1;
set of int: FEATURES = 1 .. N_FEATURES;
array[FEATURES] of var float: phi = [
    % Some features
    some_input_variable * some_output_variable
array[FEATURES] of float: w = [ ... ];
var float: score = sum(i in FEATURES)(w[i] * phi[i]);

The weights w are taken from the parameters of the model contained in the global variable params, which is passed to the linear_model call.

The Jinja2 set statement is used to assign the loss variable, which is then passed to the solve macro, which take care to insert in the compiled code a proper MiniZinc solve statement, depending on the problem to solve.

Standard inference problems

These are the basic inference problems that Pyconstruct expects the Domains to be able to solve (in order to work with LinearModels):

  • n_features : Returns the number of features in the feature vector;
  • phi : Given a x and y, returns the feature vector phi(x, y);
  • map : Given a x and a model, returns the y that maximizes the score according to the given model and input x;
  • loss_augmented_map : Given a x, a model and a y_true, find y that maximizes the score + loss, according to the given model, input x and true output y_true.