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Deploying a Machine Learning Model in a Detection Bot

This guide will share tips and tricks on deploying a scikit-learn machine learning model in a Python detection bot. To help illustrate the outlined steps, the guide will make references to the Anomalous Token Transfer ML Detection Bot’s code (ATT). Throughout the guide, we’ll use the abbreviation ATT to refer to this bot.

The ATT bot utilizes the Isolation Forest, an unsupervised outlier detection algorithm to detect anomalous transactions with erc20 token transfers. For more details on its training process, please check out the bot’s readme.

Loading the ML Model

The following three steps are required to load and interact with a trained machine learning model in the detection bot container:

  1. Save the trained model with serialization.
  2. Add model to Dockerfile.
  3. Load the model in the initialize function.

Step 1: Save trained model with serialization

To use a model in a different environment without retraining, we’ll need a way to serialize the model. Dill, an extended version of Pickle, a built-in python object serialization module, was used to serialize the ATT’s model after training in a python notebook.

import dill

with open('isolation_forest.pkl','wb') as f:
    dill.dump(model, f)

For more details on persisting scikit-learn models, please check out the model persistence documentation.

Step 2: Add model to Dockerfile

Next, the serialized model will need to be added to the Dockerfile for the model to be accessible in the container.

COPY ./isolation_forest.pkl ./

Tip: Update base image for faster Docker builds

Most Python detection bots use the alpine base image for installing Python dependencies. However, if the bot utilizes Python data science packages such as numpy, pandas, and scikit-learn, the build can take 2+ hours. To reduce the build time, it’s recommended to update the Dockerfile to use a debian base image. This will bring the build time down to <10 minutes. To learn more about this, please check out this github issue.

Step 3: Load model in the initialize handler

The initialize handler can be used to set any global variables and will be only invoked once in the beginning after a bot is assigned to a scan node. To avoid loading a model every time for prediction, we can define a global variable MODEL and load it once during initialization.


def initialize():
   global ML_MODEL'Start loading model')
   with open('isolation_forest.pkl', 'rb') as f:
       ML_MODEL = pickle.load(f)'Complete loading model')

When loading a model, it is important for the scikit-learn version in the bot environment to be the exact version as the version used during saving. If not, the model can output unexpected results.

Preparing Model Input Data

When preparing input data for a model, you can follow the tips below that can help with code readability, feature generation speed, and debugging:

Tip 1: Break down logic into separate files

Create a separate file for input data processing related functions and keep each function logic readable and simple. The ATT bot has a file called, where feature generation functions are located. This will avoid clutter in the main file and maintain separation of concern.

Tip 2: Caching 3rd Party API Results

If the model relies on 3rd party data like Etherscan and some data is expected to be requested more than once, consider setting up an LRU cache with python’s functools.lru_cache. This will eliminate redundant network calls and improve feature generation speed. The ATT bot has an LRU cache setup for the following functions:

Tip 3: Input Validation and Alerting

There can be issues during feature generation, especially if requested data from 3rd party APIs are not available. Validating the generated inputs can help surface issues more easily. With validation, we can avoid producing model predictions from invalid inputs. To surface errors more clearly, a finding can be produced for invalid inputs.

The ATT Bot has a simple validation function that checks for incorrect calculation of the feature account_active_period_in_minutes.

def valid_features(features) -> bool:
   '''Evaluate model input values'''
   if features['account_active_period_in_minutes'] < 0:
       return False

   return True

If the features are invalid, the ATT bot creates an InvalidModelFeatures finding with severity level set to info. These findings can be easily queryable via the Forta API and examined.

class InvalidModelFeatures(TokenTransfersTxFinding):
   def __init__(self, metadata, tx_executor):
       self.alert_id = 'INVALID-TOKEN-TRANSFERS-TX'
       self.description = f'Model input generation failed for tx executed by {tx_executor}' = 'Invalid Model Features'
       self.severity = FindingSeverity.Low
       self.type = FindingType.Info
       self.metadata = metadata

Processing Model Output

Tip 1: Normalizing Prediction Values

For anomaly detection, it’s good practice to normalize a model's prediction to a value range between 0 and 1 where anomalous values are closer to 1. It can help you understand how anomalous a value is and evaluate different ML techniques more easily.

Tip 2: Setting a Classification Threshold

With the normalized value, you can set an ANOMALY_THRESHOLD to tweak how often a prediction is classified as an anomaly and reduce the bot’s alerting rate. If precision is more important than recall, the threshold can be set to a higher value (e.g. prediction greater than 0.7 is considered anomalous). If recall is more important, the threshold can be set lower to allow more predictions with low confidence scores to be classified as anomalies.

Here’s how the ATT model’s scores are updated and predictions defined based on a threshold.

raw_score = ML_MODEL.score_samples(model_input)[0]
# normalize to return score between 0 and 1 (inclusive)
normalized_score = abs(raw_score)
prediction = 'ANOMALY' if normalized_score >= ANOMALY_THRESHOLD else 'NORMAL'

Tip 3: Distinguish Model Outputs in Findings

If certain model outputs are more important to surface than others, for example an anomaly vs inlier, it’s important to set an appropriate severity and finding type for different model outputs.

The ATT has a different finding class for anomalous and normal transactions:

class NormalTransaction(TokenTransfersTxFinding):
   def __init__(self, metadata, tx_executor):
       self.alert_id = 'NORMAL-TOKEN-TRANSFERS-TX'
       self.description = f'{tx_executor} executed normal tx with token transfers' = 'Normal Transaction'
       self.severity = FindingSeverity.Info
       self.type = FindingType.Info
       self.metadata = metadata

class AnomalousTransaction(TokenTransfersTxFinding):
   def __init__(self, metadata, tx_executor):
       self.alert_id = 'ANOMALOUS-TOKEN-TRANSFERS-TX'
       self.description = f'{tx_executor} executed anomalous tx with token transfers' = 'Anomalous Transaction'
       self.severity = FindingSeverity.Critical
       self.type = FindingType.Suspicious
       self.metadata = metadata

Also, over time you may update and improve the model, so to be able to distinguish and evaluate different models, it’s important to include the model version, score, classification label, and used threshold in the finding. When the model is updated, the model version can help separate out findings produced by the old and new model.

The agent docker image hash can technically be used as a version, but the hash will not be able to tell apart a code update, model update, or both, so maintaining separate model and bot versions is key. It may also be helpful to keep a log of the model version and the changes you made so that you’re aware of the techniques you tried before and avoid re-evaluating past experiments.

ATT bot’s finding outputs (partial):

 "name": "Normal Transaction",
 "metadata": {
   "prediction": "NORMAL",
   "anomaly_score": 0.311,
   "anomaly_threshold": 0.5,
   "model_version": "1657669403" # created timestamp

Monitoring Model Performance

Tip 1: Recording Latency

Finally, it’s also useful to record feature generation time and model response time to gauge the model’s performance in production. This can help you debug and detect issues more easily.

ATT bot’s finding outputs (partial):

"feature_generation_response_time": 1.292835959,
"model_pred_response_time": 0.024292124999999887,

Tip 2: Retraining ML Model

As time passes, the model performance can degrade due to shifts in real world data distribution. So once the model is deployed, it's important to frequently monitor the model output distribution to detect any deviations from the distribution seen during training. If the deviation is significant, it’s recommended to retrain the model with more recent data.

For example, with the ATT bot, the model can start considering more transactions as anomalous if the more recent transactions no longer share similar patterns or characteristics as the transactions the model was trained on. If the ATT bot starts to alert more anomalies than usual, it may be a good time to retrain the model with recent transaction data.

Tip 3: Monitoring ML Model Performance

There are two ways to monitor a ML model’s performance:

  1. One option is to check your bot’s Alert Severities breakdown on the bot details page. If the model’s class label predictions are mapped to different severity levels, you can use the pie chart to roughly gauge each class’s prediction rate. For example, the ATT bot outputs class labels ANOMALY or NORMAL. The anomalous transactions have the severity level set to CRITICAL, and normal transactions have the level set to INFO. The pie chart below shows the CRITICAL findings rate (= anomaly rate) is <1%.

Bot Alert Severity Pie Graph

  1. Another option is to query alerts with the Forta API and calculate more precise model statistics for a specific timeframe. For the ATT bot, this Daily Model Stats Notebook queries 1 day’s worth of alerts and compares the model’s anomaly rate in production with training’s anomaly rate. This notebook also shows how ANOMALY_THRESHOLD can be tweaked to increase or decrease the anomaly rate.

Interpreting Model Predictions

It may be challenging to trust a model’s predictions without understanding the rationale behind it. There are explainable AI packages such as Local Interpretable Model-Agnostic Explanations (LIME) or SHapley Additive exPlanations (SHAP) that can explain model predictions. These explanations can help you see the particular features the model considered to make a prediction.

With the ATT bot, LIME produces a list of features and their weights to indicate the feature’s influence on the prediction. For example, LIME shows below that the ATT model considered the number of USDC/USDT token transfers an important feature in labeling a transaction anomalous.

Lime Model Explanations

Was the guide helpful?

If you made it all the way here, thanks for taking the time to read this guide! Was it useful or are there other guides or anything you’d like to see? Did you integrate ML in a detection bot or need help? Let the community know how Forta can help, and don’t forget to share your bot, thoughts, and/or feedback in the “machine-learning” discord channel!