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DVC Experiments Overview

ML experiments can be saved with DVC automatically as they're run or manually after they complete. Each experiment creates and tracks a variation of your data science project based on the changes in your workspace.

Experiments preserve a connection to the latest commit in the current branch (Git HEAD) as their parent or baseline, but do not form part of the regular Git tree (unless you make them persistent). This prevents bloating your repo with temporary commits and branches.

Experiments are custom Git references (found in .git/refs/exps) with one or more commits based on HEAD. These commits are hidden and not checked out by DVC. Note that these are not pushed to Git remotes by default either (see dvc exp push).

Note that DVC Experiments require a unique name to identify them. DVC will auto-generate one by default, such as puffy-daks. A custom name can be set instead, using the --name/-n option of dvc exp run/dvc exp save. These names can be used to reference experiments in other dvc exp subcommands.

Basic workflow

dvc exp commands let you automatically track a variation of a project version (the baseline). You can create independent groups of experiments this way, as well as review, compare, and restore them later. The basic workflow goes like this:

  • Modify hyperparameters or other dependencies (input data, source code, commands to execute, etc.). Leave these changes un-committed in Git.
  • Run and save experiments. The results are reflected in your workspace, and tracked automatically.
  • Review and compare experiments in a GUI or from the command line with dvc exp show, using dvc metrics and dvc plots to identify the best one(s). Repeat 🔄
  • Make certain experiments persistent by committing their results to Git. This lets you repeat the process from that point.

See 👨‍💻 Get Started: Experiments for a hands-on introduction to DVC experiments.

Save experiments

DVC is not opinionated about your experiments workflow. To save an experiment, you can follow one of these roads:

  • If you do not have a DVC pipeline, you can log live results from Python code using DVCLive initialized with save_dvc_exp=True.
  • If you have a DVC pipeline, use dvc exp run to both run your code pipeline and save experiment results. dvc exp run also enables advanced features like queuing many experiments at once.
  • If you already have results that you want to save, or you don't want to use either of the above methods, you can save experiment results manually with dvc exp save.

Save metrics, plots, and parameters

DVC can track and compare parameters, metrics, and plots data saved in standard structured files like YAML, JSON, and CSV, and they can be tracked as part of your repo. dvc.yaml metafiles specify which files are parameters, metrics, or plots, and how to visualize plots. One way to generate these structured parameters, metrics, and plots files (and to automatically configure them in dvc.yaml) is with DVCLive.

Work with DVC Experiments from a GUI

DVC Experiments can be used directly from the VS Code IDE or online with Iterative Studio, the web UI that integrates all of our data science tools.

Iterative Studio

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VS Code Extension

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