Feature set transformations

A feature set contains an execution graph of operations that are performed when data is ingested, or when simulating data flow for inferring its metadata. This graph utilizes MLRun’s serving graph.

The graph contains steps which represent data sources and targets, and may also contain steps whose purpose is transformations and enrichment of the data passed through the feature set. These transformations can be provided in one of 3 ways:

  • Aggregations - MLRun supports adding aggregate features to a feature set through the add_aggregation() function.

  • Built-in transformations - MLRun is equipped with a set of transformations provided through the storey.transformations package. These transformations can be added to the execution graph to perform common operations and transformations.

  • Custom transformations - It is possible to extend the built-in functionality by adding new classes which perform any custom operation and using them in the serving graph.

Once a feature-set was created, its internal execution graph can be observed by calling the feature-set’s plot() function, which generates a graphviz plot based on the internal graph. This is very useful when running within a Jupyter notebook, and will produce a graph such as the following example:


This plot shows various transformations and aggregations being used as part of the feature-set processing, as well as the targets where results are saved to (in this case two targets). Feature-sets can also be observed in the MLRun UI, where the full graph can be seen and specific step properties can be observed:


For a full end-to-end example of feature-store and usage of the functionality described in this page, please refer to the feature store example.


Aggregations, being a common tool in data preparation and ML feature engineering, are available directly through the MLRun FeatureSet class. These transformations allow adding a new feature to the feature-set which is created by performing some aggregate function over feature’s values within a time-based sliding window.

For example, if a feature-set contains stock trading data including the specific bid price for each bid at any given time, the user may wish to introduce aggregate features which show the minimal and maximal bidding price over all the bids in the last hour, per stock ticker (which is the entity in question). To perform that, the following code can be used:

import mlrun.feature_store as fstore
# create a new feature set
quotes_set = fstore.FeatureSet("stock-quotes", entities=[fstore.Entity("ticker")])
quotes_set.add_aggregation("bids", "bid", ["min", "max"], ["1h"], "10m")

Once this is executed, the feature-set will have new features introduced, with their names produced from the aggregate parameters, using this format: {name}_{operation}_{window}. Thus, the example above will generate two new features: bids_min_1h and bids_max_1h. The function gets a name parameter which is used as mentioned, and a column parameter which determines on what column to perform the aggregations. These features can then be fed into predictive models or be used for additional processing and feature generation.


Internally, the graph step that is created to perform these aggregations is named "Aggregates". If more than one aggregation steps are needed, a unique name must be provided to each, using the state_name parameter.

Aggregations which are supported using this function are:

  • sum

  • sqr (sum of squares)

  • max

  • min

  • first

  • last

  • avg

  • stdvar

  • stddev

For a full documentation of this function, please visit the add_aggregation() documentation.

Built-in transformations

MLRun, and the associated storey package, have a built-in library of transformation functions that can be applied as steps in the feature-set’s internal execution graph. In order to add steps to the graph, it should be referenced from the FeatureSet object by using the graph property. Then, new steps can be added to the graph using the functions in storey.transformations (follow the link to browse the documentation and the list of existing functions). The transformations are also accessible directly from the storey module.


Internally, MLRun makes use of functions defined in the storey package for various purposes. When creating a feature-set and configuring it with sources and targets, what MLRun does behind the scenes is to add steps to the execution graph that wraps methods and classes which perform the actions. When defining an async execution graph, storey classes are used. For example, when defining a Parquet data-target in MLRun, a graph step is created that wraps storey’s WriteToParquet() function.

To use a function, the following steps need to be taken:

  1. Access the graph from the feature-set object, using the graph property.

  2. Add steps to the graph using the various graph functions, such as to(). The function object passed to the step should point at the transformation function being used.

The following is an example for adding a simple filter to the graph, that will drop any bid which is lower than 50USD:

quotes_set.graph.to("storey.Filter", "filter", _fn="(event['bid'] > 50)")

In the example above, the parameter _fn denotes a callable expression that will be passed to the storey.Filter class as the parameter fn. The callable parameter may also be a Python function, in which case there’s no need for parentheses around it. This call generates a step in the graph called filter which will call the expression provided with the event being propagated through the graph as data is fed to the feature-set.

Custom transformations

When a transformation is needed that is not provided by the built-in functions, new classes that implement transformations can be created and added to the execution graph. Such classes should extend the MapClass class, and the actual transformation should be implemented within their do() function, which receives an event and returns the event after performing transformations and manipulations on it. For example, consider the following code:

class MyMap(MapClass):
    def __init__(self, multiplier=1, **kwargs):
        self._multiplier = multiplier

    def do(self, event):
        event["multi"] = event["bid"] * self._multiplier
        return event

The MyMap class can then be used to construct graph steps, in the same way as shown above for built-in functions:

quotes_set.graph.add_step("MyMap", "multi", after="filter", multiplier=3)

This uses the add_step function of the graph to add a step called multi utilizing MyMap after the filter step that was added previously. The class will be initialized with a multiplier of 3.

Using Spark execution engine

The feature store supports using Spark for ingesting, transforming and writing results to data targets. When using Spark, the internal execution graph is executed synchronously, by utilizing a Spark session to perform read and write operations, as well as potential transformations on the data. Note that executing synchronously means that the source data is fully read into a data-frame which is processed, writing the output to the targets defined.

Spark execution may be done locally, utilizing a local Spark session provided to the ingestion call, or remotely. To use Spark as the transformation engine in ingestion, follow these steps:

  1. When constructing the FeatureSet object, pass an engine parameter and set it to spark. For example:

    feature_set = fstore.FeatureSet("stocks", entities=[fstore.Entity("ticker")], engine="spark")
  2. To use a local Spark session, pass a Spark session context when calling the ingest() function, as the spark_context parameter. This session will be used for data operations and transformations.

  3. To use a remote execution engine, pass a RunConfig object as the run_config parameter for the ingest API. The actual remote function to execute depends on the object passed:

    1. A default RunConfig, in which case the ingestion code would generate a new MLRun function runtime of type remote-spark, or will utilize the function specified in feature_set.spec.function (in which case, it has to be of runtime type remote-spark).

    2. A RunConfig which has a function configured within it. As mentioned, the function runtime must be of type remote-spark.

For example, the following code will execute data ingestion using Spark:

from mlrun.datastore.sources import CSVSource
from mlrun.datastore.targets import CSVTarget
from mlrun import code_to_function
import mlrun.feature_store as fstore
feature_set = fstore.FeatureSet("stocks", entities=[fstore.Entity("ticker")], engine="spark")

source = CSVSource("mycsv", path="stocks.csv")
targets = [CSVTarget("mycsv", path="./my_result_stocks.csv")]

# Execution using a local Spark session
spark = SparkSession.builder.appName("Spark function").getOrCreate()
fstore.ingest(feature_set, source, targets, spark_context=spark)

# Remote execution using a remote-spark runtime
fstore.ingest(feature_set, source, targets, run_config=fstore.RunConfig())

# Remote execution using a remote-spark runtime over iguazio
spark_service_name = "iguazio-spark-service"
fstore.ingest(feature_set, source, targets, run_config=fstore.RunConfig(), spark_context=spark_service_name)

When using a local Spark session, the ingest API would wait for its completion, while when using remote execution the MLRun run execution details would be returned, allowing tracking of its status and results.

Remote Iguazio spark ingestion example:

# nuclio: start-code
from mlrun.feature_store.api import ingest
def ingest_handler(context):
    ingest(mlrun_context=context) # The handler function must call ingest with the mlrun_context

def my_spark_func(df, context=None):
    return df.filter("bid>55")
# nuclio: end-code
from mlrun.datastore.sources import CSVSource
from mlrun.datastore.targets import CSVTarget
from mlrun import code_to_function
import mlrun.feature_store as fstore

feature_set = fstore.FeatureSet("stock-quotes", entities=[fstore.Entity("ticker")], engine="spark")

source = CSVSource("mycsv", path="quotes.csv")
targets = [CSVTarget("mycsv", path="./my_result_stock_quotes.csv")]

spark_service_name = "iguazio-spark-service" # As configured & shown in the Iguazio dashboard

feature_set.graph.to(name="s1", handler="my_spark_func")
my_func = code_to_function("func", kind="remote-spark")
config = fstore.RunConfig(local=False, function=my_func, handler="ingest_handler")
fstore.ingest(feature_set, source, targets, run_config=fstore.RunConfig(), spark_context=spark_service_name)