Dearest Reader,


Will's professor handed him a paper (HARRISON: A Benchmark on HAshtag Recommendation for Real-world Images in Social Networks, Park, et al.). We re-implemented it.

What it does

Given a picture, based on a models trained over 57,000 Instagram photos and their captions (gathered and preprocessed by grad students, return the top 5 hashtags (based on a set of the 1000 most popular hashtags on the platform) most reflective of the dataset.

How it was built

1. The Models

  • pytorch
  • AlexNet
  • VGG16
  • a lot of black magic
  • Google Cloud Platform
    • 2 x Deep Learning VM Image on Compute Engine Instance
    • PyTorch (new!)
    • 26 GB memory, 4 cores
    • GPUs: V100 x 1, K80 x 8
    • Storage
    • Exports trained models/weights to GCP Storage
  • 80 days' worth of Passion Fruit flavored vitamin B12 in half the Deep Learning Team

2. The Web App

  • Running on Flask, served with Gunicorn and Nginx on a GCP Compute Engine instance
    • 16 GB memory, 4 cores
  • HTML, CSS, jQuery (just a little)
  • The poster child of My First Bootstrap Website™ templates
  • filepond by pqina
  • A little bit of Photoshop and some Instagram mockup .psds

Challenges we ran into

  • Deep Learning by nature is black magic invoked by dancing around a fire under the full moon, neither of which the team had
  • Half the ML team was allergic to the gym
  • Running out of memory (and subsequent infighting within the ML team for memory)
  • Originally wanted to use GCP serverless options, but size of model would take too long, needed to be preloaded for acceptable latencies
  • Multi-threaded nature of web servers led to multiple copies of model being loaded, overwhelming memory limits
    • Preloaded and shared as read-only across all threads to fix
  • The web dev didn't know anything about web dev
  • The intractable nature of the project
  • ML is black magic
  • Deep Learning is black magic on steroids

Accomplishments we're proud of

  • The web dev has a nonzero number of skill points in web dev
  • GCP Liaison has added to his ever growing knowledge base concerning cloud based services
  • We actually finished a project
  • We finished a somewhat sizable project, given our history (or lack thereof)

What we learned

  • Planning projects beforehand is a good idea
  • The most confusing thing about learning web dev was the fact that I was working with and integrating three different syntaxes I had no experience with on a platform I had no system knowledge about
  • Code reviews are important and you should always be wary of particularly good results for precision and recall
  • In our case, rapidly rising numbers in precision and recall (e.g. 0.005 --> 0.015 between batches) is Very Not Good™ and you should be skeptical

What's next for HashStagram

  • A fire, full moon, and an ML team that's Dance 101 certified
  • Scale it on GCP with load balancing
  • Integration on mobile app


As included in the external form fields, the website can be found at and the GitHub repository at willshiao/sdhacks-2018.

Sincerely, The HashStagram Team

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