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Using PyTorch in Python An Introduction to Machine Learning and Deep Learning

By David Li on 2025-01-22T20:35:26.000Z

Using PyTorch in Python: An Introduction to Machine Learning and Deep Learning

PyTorch is an open-source machine learning library developed by Facebook’s AI Research lab (FAIR) that provides a flexible and efficient platform for building deep learning models. In this article, we will explore the basics of PyTorch and its application in Python.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to PyTorch
  2. Installation and Setup
  3. Tensors
  4. Autograd
  5. Creating a Neural Network
  6. Training a Neural Network
  7. Conclusion

Introduction to PyTorch

PyTorch is a powerful library that offers a dynamic computation graph and GPU acceleration, making it suitable for a wide range of machine learning and deep learning tasks. PyTorch allows you to create and train complex models using an easy-to-understand Pythonic syntax.

Some key features of PyTorch are:

  • Tensor computation: PyTorch provides a multi-dimensional array called a tensor, which can be used for various mathematical operations.
  • GPU acceleration: PyTorch supports NVIDIA’s CUDA platform, allowing tensors to be stored and operated on using GPU resources for faster computation.
  • Dynamic computation graph: Unlike some other deep learning libraries, PyTorch allows you to create and modify computation graphs on-the-fly, providing more flexibility when developing models.
  • Autograd: PyTorch includes a built-in automatic differentiation engine called Autograd, which simplifies the process of computing gradients for backpropagation.
  • Wide range of pre-built modules: PyTorch provides various pre-built modules for common neural network architectures, loss functions, and optimization algorithms.

Installation and Setup

To install PyTorch, you can use the pip package manager. Make sure you have Python 3 installed before proceeding.

pip install torch

If you have an NVIDIA GPU with CUDA support, you can install the GPU version of PyTorch by specifying the appropriate version:

pip install torch -f https://download.pytorch.org/whl/cu111/torch_stable.html

Replace cu111 with the appropriate CUDA version number for your system.

Once installed, you can import PyTorch in your Python script:

import torch


Tensors are the fundamental data structure in PyTorch and are used to represent multi-dimensional arrays. They can be created and manipulated using a NumPy-like syntax.

Here’s an example of creating a tensor:

import torch

x = torch.tensor([[1, 2], [3, 4], [5, 6]])

This will output:

tensor([[1, 2],
        [3, 4],
        [5, 6]])

You can perform various operations on tensors, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and more:

x = torch.tensor([1, 2, 3])
y = torch.tensor([4, 5, 6])

## Element-wise addition
z = x + y
print(z)  ## Output: tensor([5, 7, 9])

## Element-wise multiplication
z = x * y
print(z)  ## Output: tensor([ 4, 10, 18])


Autograd is PyTorch’s automatic differentiation engine, which computes gradients for tensor operations. To use Autograd, you must set the requires_grad attribute of a tensor to True. This will enable gradient tracking for that tensor and any operations performed on it.

Here’s an example of using Autograd to compute gradients:

import torch

x = torch.tensor(2.0, requires_grad=True)
y = x ** 2

y.backward()  ## Compute gradients

print(x.grad)  ## Output: tensor(4.0)

Creating a Neural Network

To create a neural network in PyTorch, you need to define a class that inherits from torch.nn.Module and implement the forward method. This method defines the forward pass of your model.

Here’s an example of creating a simple feedforward neural network with one hidden layer:

import torch
import torch.nn as nn

class FeedforwardNN(nn.Module):
    def __init__(self, input_size, hidden_size, output_size):
        super(FeedforwardNN, self).__init__()
        self.hidden = nn.Linear(input_size, hidden_size)
        self.relu = nn.ReLU()
        self.output = nn.Linear(hidden_size, output_size)

    def forward(self, x):
        x = self.hidden(x)
        x = self.relu(x)
        x = self.output(x)
        return x

Training a Neural Network

To train a neural network, you need to define a loss function and an optimizer. PyTorch provides various loss functions and optimization algorithms in the torch.nn and torch.optim modules, respectively.

Here’s an example of training the feedforward neural network defined earlier using the mean squared error loss and stochastic gradient descent (SGD) optimizer:

import torch
import torch.nn as nn
import torch.optim as optim

## Create synthetic data
input_data = torch.randn(100, 3)
target_data = torch.randn(100, 1)

## Initialize the model, loss function, and optimizer
model = FeedforwardNN(input_size=3, hidden_size=10, output_size=1)
loss_function = nn.MSELoss()
optimizer = optim.SGD(model.parameters(), lr=0.01)

## Train the model
for epoch in range(100):  ## Number of training epochs
    ## Forward pass
    output = model(input_data)

    ## Compute the loss
    loss = loss_function(output, target_data)

    # Backward pass
    optimizer.zero_grad()  ## Clear previous gradients
    loss.backward()  ## Compute gradients

    ## Update weights

    ## Print loss for the current epoch
    print(f"Epoch {epoch + 1}, Loss: {loss.item()}")


In this article, we introduced PyTorch, a powerful library for machine learning and deep learning in Python. We covered the basics of tensors, Autograd, creating a neural network, and training a neural network. PyTorch’s flexibility and ease of use make it an excellent choice for both beginners and experts in the field of deep learning.

There is much more to learn about PyTorch, including advanced features like recurrent neural networks, convolutional neural networks, transfer learning, and more. To dive deeper into PyTorch, check out the official documentation and additional resources like tutorials, examples, and community-contributed projects.

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