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How Shopify used Ray<>Tensorflow to build a Product Hierarchical Categorization model to auto classify billions of products using NLP and Computer Vision,

January 30, 2023

How Shopify used Ray<>Tensorflow to build a Product Hierarchical Categorization model to auto classify billions of products using NLP and Computer Vision,

Organizing products using structured metadata is crucial in online retail. This metadata is usually needed by many downstream applications including search and discovery, trust and safety, analytics and reporting among others. At Shopify we like to make the commerce journey as easy as possible for our merchants and one part of this is using Machine Learning to predict the product category for the billions of products that our merchants sell.

We will look at how we solved this problem using transfer learning through Natural Language Processing and Computer vision to create a hierarchical classification Deep Neural Network to categorize products into a hierarchical tree taxonomy. We will dig deeper into modeling challenges and how we came up with specific architecture decisions. We will then dive into how Ray and other tool choices made this work at Shopify Scale. The talk will cover how we continuously monitor the performance of the model using both ML as well as business metrics and how this leads into a feedback mechanism that results in better models.

Finally we will talk about how all of this was built keeping merchant success front and center of all the product as well as technical decisions we made by talking about different features that are built on top of this model that have benefited our merchants.


January 30, 2023

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  1. Overview • What does Product Understanding mean @Shopify ? •

    Problem Formulation and Model architecture. • Infrastructure and Scaling • How merchants interact with ML and feedback loops • What next?
  2. What is Product Understanding? Build a product metadata identification service

    that effectively extracts useful product information for downstream applications or analytical purposes.
  3. Model Architecture • Multi Task - Multi Class Learning: ◦

    Each level of the taxonomy is a separate learning task. ◦ Each task is a multi class classification problem. • Transfer Learning: Pretrained models for both text and image features. ◦ Multi lingual BERT for text ◦ MobileNet V2 for Images • Subclass Model Architecture to make different pieces of the model deployable either as a standalone model or in combination with other models together. • Tensorflow Transform to perform stateful transformations during preprocessing.
  4. Model Architecture: Training • Parent nodes help child node predictions.

    • 7 levels/tasks in total spanning over 5500 nodes • Data parallelism using distributed Tensorflow across multiple machines/GPUs • Uses Shopify’s ML platform which is built on Google Cloud Platform. • Taxonomy unaware during training!
  5. Inference Scaling Requirements • Shopify has multiple billions of products

    historically. • Tens of billions of images • Tens of million of products created/updated daily. • Multiple downstream consumers. Ex: Search, Product Sync, Admin Page, Analytics. • Real time , Streaming and Batch applications.
  6. Model Architecture: Inference Model Image_Text2Pred Input: Raw Text & Raw

    Image Output: Prediction per level Model: Image_Text2Prob Input: Raw Text & Raw Image Output: All Probabilities Model: Text2Emb Input: Raw Text Output: Text Emb Model: Image2Emb Input: Raw Image Output: Img Emb Model: Emb2Pred Input: Img, Text Emb Output:Prediction per level Model: Emb2Prob Input: Img,Text Emb Output: All Probabilities Model: Prob2Pred Input: All Prob Output: Prediction per level
  7. Taxonomy Structure During Inference • Raw predictions contain confidence scores

    for every node in the taxonomy. • Greedy prediction logic with thresholding to enforce the taxonomy structure. Raw Predictions: Array on confidence scores/per level Choose level 1 prediction with highest score Filter to only immediate descendants of level 1 predicted category Choose level 2 descendant with highest score Continue till hitting Leaf Node or Level 7
  8. Metrics • Model Metrics: ◦ Hierarchical Precision ◦ Hierarchical Recall

    ◦ Coverage ◦ Relative Lowest common ancestor • Product Metrics: ◦ Adoption ◦ Merchant acceptance
  9. What next ? • Evolve and adapt the taxonomy •

    Varying logic for probability to prediction for different downstream consumers. • Automate threshold tuning based on merchant feedback.
  10. Vision and Next Steps • Develop connected taxonomies of categories

    and attributes. Category: Electric Guitar Attributes: Color: {Red, Green, Blue, Black, Brown} # Strings: {6,7,12} Fretboard Material: {Rosewood, Ebony , Maple} Category: Refrigerator Attributes: Color: {Black, White, Stainless Steel} Door Type: {French, Side by Side, Top Freezer} Lock Type: {Electronic, Manual} • Expand model to infer additional attributes.