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 Real-time serving pipelines (graphs).

The graph contains steps that 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 three 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 — You can extend the built-in functionality by adding new classes that perform any custom operation and use them in the serving graph.

Once a feature-set is 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 produces 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, refer to the feature store example.

In this section


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 that 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, you could introduce aggregate features that 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 do that, use the code:

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("bid", ["min", "max"], ["1h"], "10m")

Once this is executed, the feature-set has new features introduced, with their names produced from the aggregate parameters, using this format: {column}_{operation}_{window}. Thus, the example above generates two new features: bid_min_1h and bid_max_1h. If the function gets an optional name parameter, features are produced in {name}_{operation}_{window} format. If the name parameter is not specified, features are produced in {column_name}_{operation}_{window} format. 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.

  • The timestamp column must be part of the feature set definition (for aggregation).

Aggregations that are supported using this function are:

  • count

  • sum

  • sqr (sum of squares)

  • max

  • min

  • first

  • last

  • avg

  • stdvar

  • stddev

For a full documentation of this function, see 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.

See the built-in steps.


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:

  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 drops 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 is passed to the storey.Filter class as the parameter fn. The callable parameter can 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 that calls 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 is initialized with a multiplier of 3.