Architecture and Design Principles

TODO: finish this section


Kick start clock

A centralized clock is available in akid to model the elapsing time in the physical world. It is roughly the training step, or iteration step when training a neural network.

If any training is supposed to done with the machinery provided akid, the clock needs to be manually started using the following snippets. However, if you are using Kid class, it will be called automatically.

from akid.common import init

Model Abstraction

All core classes a sub class of Block.

The philosophy is to bring neural network to its biological origin, the brain, a data processing engine that is tailored to process hierarchical data of the universe. The universe is built block by block, from micro world, modules consisting of atoms, to macro world, buildings made up by bricks and windows, and cosmic world, billions of stars creating galaxies.

Tentatively, there are two kinds of blocks — simple blocks and complex blocks. Simple blocks are traditional processing units such as convolutional layers. While complex blocks holds sub-blocks with certain topology. Complex blocks are System. A module systems offers different Systems to model the mathematical topological structures how data propagates. These two types of blocks build up the recursive scheme to build arbitrarily complex blocks.

Model and Computation

Blocks are responsible for easing building computational graph. Given two-phase procedure that first builds computational graph, then executes that graph, each object (including but not limiting to blocks) who actually needs to do computation has its own computational components, a graph and a session. If no higher level one is given, the block will create a suite of its own; otherwise, it will use what it is given.


A model’s construction is separated from its execution environment.

To use most classes, its setup method should be called before anything else. This is tied with Tensorflow’s two-stage execution mechanism: first build the computational graph in python, then run the graph in the back end. The setup of most classes build and do necessary initialization for the first stage of the computation. The caller is responsible for passing in the right data for setup.

setup should be called under a tf.Graph() umbrella, which is in the simplest case is a context manager that open a default graph:

TODO: build the umbrella within.

with self.graph.as_default():
    # Graph building codes here

That is to say if you are going to use certain class standalone, a graph context manager is needed.

Each System takes a graph argument on construction. If no one is given, it will create one internally. So no explicit graph umbrella is needed.


TODO: abstract this within

A graph hold all created blocks. To actually run the computational graph, all computational methods has an sess argument to take an opened tf.Session() to run within, thus any upper level execution environment could be passed down. The upper level code is responsible to set up a session. In such a way, computational graph construction does not need to take care of execution. However, for certain class, such as a Survivor, if an upper level session does not exist, a default one will be created for the execution for convenience.

This allows a model to be deployed on various execution environment.

Design Principles


The design principle is to make the number of concepts exist at the same time as small as possible.

LEGO Blocks

The coding process is to assembly various smaller blocks to form necessary functional larger blocks.

The top level concept is a survivor. It models how an agent explore the world by learning in order to survive, though the world has not been modeled yet. Up to now, it could be certain virtual reality world that simulate the physical world to provide environment to the survivor.

A Survivor assemblies together a Sensor, a Brain and a KongFu. A Sensor assemblies together Jokers and data Sources. A Brain assemblies together a number of ProcessingLayer to form a neural networking.

Distributed Composition

Every sub-block of a large block should be self-contained. A large block only needs minimum amount of information from a sub block. They communicate through I/O interfaces. So the hierarchical composition scale up in a distributed way and could goes arbitrary deep with manageable complexity.