Splunk® Machine Learning Toolkit

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Predict Categorical Fields Experiment workflow

Experiments manage the data source, algorithm, and the parameters to configure that algorithm within one framework. An Experiment is an exclusive knowledge object in the Splunk platform that keeps track of its settings and history, as well as its affiliated alerts and scheduled trainings. Experiment Assistants enable machine learning through a guided user interface.

The following classification table shows the actual state of the field versus predicted state of the field. The yellow bar highlights an incorrect prediction.

This classification table shows the actual state versus predicted state of the field.

Available algorithms

The Predict Categorical Fields assistant uses the following classification algorithms:

Create an Experiment to predict a categorical field

The Predict Categorical Fields Assistant displays a type of learning known as classification. A classification algorithm learns the tendency for data to belong to one category or another based on related data.

Before you begin

  • The Predict Categorical Fields Assistant offers the option to preprocess your data. Read up on the preprocessing algorithms available here: Preprocessing machine data using Assistants.
  • The toolkit default selects the Logistic Regression algorithm. Use this default if you aren't sure which one is best for you. Read up on the other algorithm options here: Algorithms.

Assistant workflow

Follow these steps to create a Predict Categorical Fields Experiment.

  1. From the MLTK navigation bar, click Experiments.
    • If this is the first experiment in the toolkit, you will land on a display screen of all six Assistants. Select the Predict Categorical Fields block.
    • If you have at least one experiment in the toolkit, you will land on a list view of experiments. Click the Create New Experiment button.
  2. Fill in an Experiment Title, and (optionally) add a description. Both the name and description can be edited later if needed.
  3. Click Create.
  4. Run a search and be sure to select a date range.
  5. (Optional) Click + Add a step to add preprocessing steps.
  6. Select an algorithm from the Algorithm drop-down menu. LogisticRegression is selected by default. Another algorithm option may better fit your Experiment.

    This image shows the algorithm drop-down menu with the LogisticRegression option selected. Other options listed include SVM and RandomForestClassifier.

  7. Select a target field from the drop-down menu Field to Predict.
    When you select the Field to predict, the Fields to use for predicting drop-down menu populates with available fields to include in your model.
  8. Select a combination of fields from the drop-down menu Fields to use for predicting.
  9. Use the slider bar to split your data into training and testing data. The default split is 50/50, and the data is divided randomly into two groups.
  10. (Optional) Add notes to this Experiment. Use this free form block of text to track the selections made in the Experiment parameter fields. Refer back to notes to review which parameter combinations yield the best results.

    The algorithm you select determines the fields available to build your model. Hover over any field name to get more information about that field.

  11. Click Fit Model. The experiment is now in a Draft state.
    Draft versions allow you to alter settings without committing or overwriting a saved Experiment. An Experiment is not stored to Splunk until it is saved.
    The following table explains the differences between a draft and a saved Experiment.
    Action Draft Experiment Saved Experiment
    Create new record in Experiment history Yes No
    Run Experiment search jobs Yes No
    (As applicable) Save and update Experiment model No Yes
    (As applicable) Update all Experiment alerts No Yes
    (As applicable) Update Experiment scheduled trainings No Yes

Interpret and validate results

After you fit the model, review the prediction results and visualizations to see how well the model predicted the categorical field. In this analysis, metrics are related to mis-classifying the field, and are based on false positives and negatives, and true positives and negatives. You can use the following methods to evaluate your predictions:

Charts and Results Applications
Precision This statistic is the percentage of the time a predicted class is the correct class.
Recall This statistic is the percentage of time that the correct class is predicted.
Accuracy This statistic is the overall percentage of correct predictions.
F1 This statistic is the the weighted average of precision and recall, based on a scale from zero to one. The closer the statistic is to one, the better the fit of the model.
Classification Results (Confusion Matrix) This table charts the number of actual results against predicted results, also known as a Confusion Matrix. The shaded diagonal numbers should be high (closer to 100%), while the other numbers should be closer to 0.

Refine the Experiment

After you validate your results, refine the Experimentl and run the fit command again. Optionally choose to track your changes in the Notes text field.

Consider the following options to better refine your Experiment:

  1. Reduce the number of fields selected in the Fields to use for predicting drop-down menu. Having too many fields can generate a distraction.
  2. Bring in new data sources to enrich your modeling space.
  3. Build features on raw data, model on behaviors of the data instead of raw data points, using SPL, Streamstats, or eventstats.
  4. Check your fields to ensure you are using categorical values correctly. For example are you using DayOfWeek as a number (0 to 6) instead of as "Monday", "Tuesday", and so forth? Make sure you have the right type of value for categorical fields.
  5. Bring in context via lookups - holidays, external anomalies, etc.
  6. Increase the number of fields (from additional data, feature building as above, etc) selected in the Fields to use for predicting drop-down menu.

Use the Experiment History tab to review settings and changes made as you refine the model.

The history of any scheduled model retraining is captured in the Experiment History tab.

Save the Experiment

Once you are getting valuable results from your Experiment, save it. Saving your Experiment results in the following actions:

  1. Assistant settings saved as an Experiment knowledge object.
  2. The Draft version saves to the Experiment Listings page.
  3. Any affiliated scheduled trainings and alerts update to synchronize with the search SPL and trigger conditions.

You can load a saved Experiment by clicking the Experiment name.

Deploy the Experiment

Saved predict categorical fields Experiments include options to manage and publish.

Within the Experiment framework

From within the framework, you can both manage and publish your Experiments. To manage your Experiment, perform the following steps:

  1. From the MLTK navigation bar, choose Experiments. A list of your saved experiments populates.
  2. Click the Manage button available under the Actions column.
This image shows Experiments listing page with one listing for a Predict Categorical Fields type of Experiment. The Manage drop-down menu is selected, displaying the options of Create Alert, Edit Title and Description, Schedule Training, and Delete.

The toolkit supports the following Experiment management options:

  • Create and manage Experiment-level alerts. Choose from both Splunk platform standard trigger conditions, as well as from Machine Learning Conditions related to the Experiment.
  • Edit the title and description of the Experiment.
  • Schedule a training job for an Experiment.
  • Delete an Experiment.

Updating a saved Experiment can affect affiliated alerts. Re-validate your alerts once you complete the changes. For more information about alerts, see Getting started with alerts in the Splunk Enterprise Alerting Manual.

You can publish your Experiment through the following steps:

  1. From the MLTK navigation bar, choose Experiments. A list of saved Experiments populates.
  2. Click the Publish button available under the Actions column.
    Publishing an experiment model means the main model and any associated preprocessing models will be copied as lookup files in the user's namespace within a selected destination app. Published models can be used to create alerts or schedule model trainings.

    The Publish link will only show if you have created the experiment, and fit the model.

  3. Give the model a title. It must start with letter or underscore, and only have letters, numbers, and underscores in the name.
  4. Select the destination app.
  5. Click Save.
  6. A message will let you know whether the model has been published, or why the action was not completed.

Experiments are always stored under the user's namespace, so changing sharing settings and permissions on Experiments is not supported.

Outside the Experiment framework

  1. Click Open in Search to generate a New Search tab for this same dataset. This new search opens in a new browser tab, away from the Assistant.
    This search query uses all data, not just the training set. You can adjust the SPL directly and see the results immediately. You can also save the query as a Report, Dashboard Panel or Alert.
  2. Click Show SPL to generate a new modal window/ overlay showing the search query you used to fit the model. Copy the SPL to use in other aspects of your Splunk instance.

Learn more

To learn about implementing analytics and data science projects using Splunk's statistics, machine learning, built-in and custom visualization capabilities, see the Splunk for Analytics and Data Science course.

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This documentation applies to the following versions of Splunk® Machine Learning Toolkit: 4.2.0, 4.3.0


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