Numpy Softmax in Python

  1. NumPy Softmax Function for 1D Arrays in Python
  2. NumPy Softmax Function for 2D Arrays in Python

This tutorial will explain how to implement the softmax function using the NumPy library in Python. The softmax function is a generalized multidimensional form of the logistic function. It is used in multinomial logistic regression and as an activation function in artificial neural networks.

The softmax function normalizes all the elements of the array in the interval (0,1) so that they can be treated as probabilities. The softmax function is defined by the following formula:

softmax formula

We will look at the methods to implement the softmax function on one and two-dimensional arrays in Python using the Numpy library.

NumPy Softmax Function for 1D Arrays in Python

Suppose we need to define a softmax function that takes a 1D array as input and returns the required normalized array.

The common problem which can occur while applying softmax is the numeric stability problem, which means that the ∑j e^(z_j) may become very large due to the exponential and overflow error that may occur. This overflow error can be solved by subtracting each value of the array with its max value.

The code examples below demonstrate the softmax function’s original implementation and the implementation with max subtraction using the Numpy library in Python.

  • Original softmax:
import numpy as np

def softmax(x):
    
    f_x = np.exp(x) / np.sum(np.exp(x))
    return f_x
  • Numerically Stable softmax:
import numpy as np

def softmax(x):

    y = np.exp(x - np.max(x))
    f_x = y / np.sum(np.exp(x))
    return f_x

NumPy Softmax Function for 2D Arrays in Python

The softmax function for a 2D array will perform the softmax transformation along the rows, which means the max and sum will be calculated along the rows. In the case of the 1D array, we did not have to worry about these things; we just needed to apply all the operations on the complete array.

The code example below demonstrates how the softmax transformation will be transformed on a 2D array input using the Numpy library in Python.

import numpy as np

def softmax(x):
    
    max = np.max(x,axis=1,keepdims=True) #returns max of each row and keeps same dims
    e_x = np.exp(x - max) #subtracts each row with its max value
    sum = np.sum(e_x,axis=1,keepdims=True) #returns sum of each row and keeps same dims
    f_x = e_x / sum 
    return f_x

Suppose we need to perform softmax transformation along the columns of 2D array; we can do it by just taking transport of input and output of the softmax() method described above.

Example code:

softmax(x.T).T
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