Sunday, August 17, 2014

Getting Started with Vowpal Wabbit - Part 1 : Installation

After a very long hiatus, I'm back blogging. I'm really excited about how the year is shaping up.... stay tuned.

I discovered Vowpal Wabbit about a year ago but only recently started using it. Vowpal Wabbit is a very fast out-of-core learning system. Its the brain child of John Langford. and development has been supported by Microsoft Research and Yahoo Research (past)

This is the first part of a series about getting started with Vowpal Wabbit

To get started on OSX, you need to ensure you already have XCode and Homebrew installed. If you already have these installed, run the command below to update Homebrew

brew update

Vowpal Wabbit has a few dependencies that also need to be installed via brew. The official docs have the boost library as the only external dependency, but I was having a few issues until I installed automake and libtool

brew install automake
brew install boost
brew install libtool

In order to prevent conflicts with Apple's own libtool, a "g" is appended when you install libtool so you have instead: glibtool and glibtoolize. The code below adds a symbolic link.

cd /usr/local/bin/
ln -s glibtoolize libtoolize

Clone the Vowpal Wabbit git repo for the latest code

git clone
cd vowpal_wabbit

Then you should run

make install

If you are having set up issues or issues with dependencies, you may want to spin up a virtual machine. If you're on Ubuntu, you should run

sudo apt-get install vowpal-wabbit

Two of the most informative blogs out there with great coverage of Vowpal Wabbit are MLWave and  FastML (it looks like this is behind a paywall)