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NAME - Supervised classification and regression of GRASS rasters using the python scikit-learn package


raster, classification, regression, machine learning, scikit-learn

SYNOPSIS --help [-tfrspzmbl] group=name [trainingmap=name] [trainingpoints=name] [field=name] [output=name] [classifier=string] [c=float[,float,...]] [max_features=integer[,integer,...]] [max_depth=integer[,integer,...]] [min_samples_split=integer[,integer,...]] [min_samples_leaf=integer[,integer,...]] [n_estimators=integer[,integer,...]] [learning_rate=float[,float,...]] [subsample=float[,float,...]] [max_degree=integer[,integer,...]] [n_neighbors=integer[,integer,...]] [weights=string[,string,...]] [grid_search=string] [categorymaps=name[,name,...]] [cvtype=string] [n_partitions=integer] [group_raster=name] [cv=integer] [n_permutations=integer] [errors_file=name] [preds_file=name] [fimp_file=name] [param_file=name] [random_state=integer] [indexes=integer[,integer,...]] [rowincr=integer] [n_jobs=integer] [save_training=name] [load_training=name] [save_model=name] [load_model=name] [--overwrite] [--help] [--verbose] [--quiet] [--ui]


Perform hyperparameter tuning only
Estimate permutation-based feature importances
Estimate feature importance using a permutation-based method
Make predictions for cross validation resamples
Produce raster predictions for all cross validation resamples
Standardization preprocessing
Standardize feature variables (convert values the get zero mean and unit variance).
Output class membership probabilities
A raster layer is created for each class. It is recommended to give a list of particular classes in interest to avoid consumption of large amounts of disk space.
Only predict class probabilities
Build model only - do not perform prediction
Balance training data using class weights
Use memory swap
Allow output files to overwrite existing files
Print usage summary
Verbose module output
Quiet module output
Force launching GUI dialog


group=name [required]
Group of raster layers to be classified
GRASS imagery group of raster maps representing feature variables to be used in the machine learning model
Labelled pixels
Raster map with labelled pixels for training
Vectorfile with training samples
Vector points map where each point is used as training sample. Handling of missing values in training data can be choosen later.
Response attribute column
Name of attribute column in trainingpoints table containing response values
Output Map
Raster layer name to store result from classification or regression model. The name will also used as a perfix if class probabilities or intermediate of cross-validation results are ordered as maps.
Supervised learning model to use
Options: LogisticRegression, LinearDiscriminantAnalysis, QuadraticDiscriminantAnalysis, KNeighborsClassifier, GaussianNB, DecisionTreeClassifier, DecisionTreeRegressor, RandomForestClassifier, RandomForestRegressor, ExtraTreesClassifier, ExtraTreesRegressor, GradientBoostingClassifier, GradientBoostingRegressor, SVC, EarthClassifier, EarthRegressor
Default: RandomForestClassifier
Inverse of regularization strength
Inverse of regularization strength (LogisticRegression and SVC)
Default: 1.0
Number of features available during node splitting; zero uses classifier defaults
Number of features available during node splitting (tree-based classifiers and regressors)
Default: 0
Maximum tree depth; zero uses classifier defaults
Maximum tree depth for tree-based method; zero uses classifier defaults (full-growing for Decision trees and Randomforest, 3 for GBM)
Default: 0
The minimum number of samples required for node splitting
The minimum number of samples required for node splitting in tree-based classifiers
Default: 2
The minimum number of samples required to form a leaf node
The minimum number of samples required to form a leaf node in tree-based classifiers
Default: 1
Number of estimators
Number of estimators (trees) in ensemble tree-based classifiers
Default: 100
learning rate
learning rate (also known as shrinkage) for gradient boosting methods
Default: 0.1
The fraction of samples to be used for fitting
The fraction of samples to be used for fitting, controls stochastic behaviour of gradient boosting methods
Default: 1.0
The maximum degree of terms in forward pass
The maximum degree of terms in forward pass for Py-earth
Default: 1
Number of neighbors to use
Number of neighbors to use
Default: 5
weight function
Distance weight function for k-nearest neighbours model prediction
Options: uniform, distance
Default: uniform
Resampling method to use for hyperparameter optimization
Resampling method to use for hyperparameter optimization
Options: cross-validation, holdout
Default: cross-validation
Names of categorical rasters within the imagery group
Names of categorical rasters within the imagery group that will be one-hot encoded. Leave empty if none.
Non-spatial or spatial cross-validation
Perform non-spatial, clumped or clustered k-fold cross-validation
Options: non-spatial, clumped, kmeans
Default: Non-spatial
Number of k-means spatial partitions
Number of k-means spatial partitions for k-means clustered cross-validation
Default: 10
Custom group ids for training samples from GRASS raster
GRASS raster containing group ids for training samples. Samples with the same group id will not be split between training and test cross-validation folds
Number of cross-validation folds
Default: 1
Number of permutations to perform for feature importances
Default: 10
Save cross-validation global accuracy results to csv
Name for output file
Save cross-validation predictions to csv
Name for output file
Save feature importances to csv
Name for output file
Save hyperparameter search scores to csv
Name for output file
Seed to use for random state
Default: 1
Indexes of class probabilities to predict. Default -1 predicts all classes
Default: -1
Maximum number of raster rows to read/write in single chunk whilst performing prediction
Default: 25
Number of cores for multiprocessing, -2 is n_cores-1
Default: -2
Save training data to csv
Name for output file
Load training data from csv
Name of input file
Save model to file (for compression use e.g. '.gz' extension)
Name for output file
Load model from file
Name of input file

Table of contents

DESCRIPTION represents a front-end to the scikit learn python package. The module enables scikit-learn classification and regression models to be applied to GRASS GIS rasters that are stored as part of an imagery group group or specified as individual maps in the optional raster parameter. Several commonly used classifiers and regressors are exposed in the GUI and the choice of classifier is set using the classifier parameter. For more details relating to the classifiers, refer to the scikit learn documentation. The following classification and regression methods are available:

The Classifier parameters tab provides access to the most pertinent parameters that affect the previously described algorithms. The scikit-learn classifier defaults are generally supplied, and some of these parameters can be tuning using a grid-search by inputting multiple parameter settings as a comma-separated list. This tuning can also be accomplished simultaneously with nested cross-validation by also settings the cv option to > 1. The parameters consist of:

In addition to model fitting and prediction, feature selection can be performed using the -f flag. The feature selection method employed is based on Brenning et al. (2012) and consists of a custom permutation-based method that can be applied to all of the classifiers as part of a cross-validation. The method consists of: (1) determining a performance metric on a test partition of the data; (2) permuting each variable and assessing the difference in performance between the original and permutation; (3) repeating step 2 for n_permutations; (4) averaging the results. Steps 1-4 are repeated on each k partition. The feature importance represent the average decrease in performance of each variable when permuted. For binary classifications, the AUC is used as the metric. Multiclass classifications use accuracy, and regressions use R2.

Cross validation can be performed by setting the cv parameters to > 1. Cross-validation is performed using stratified kfolds, and multiple global and per-class accuracy measures are produced depending on whether the response variable is binary or multiclass, or the classifier is for regression or classification. The cvtype parameter can also be changed from 'non-spatial' to either 'clumped' or 'kmeans' to perform spatial cross-validation. Clumped spatial cross-validation is used if the training pixels represent polygons, and then cross-validation will be effectively performed on a polygon basis. Kmeans spatial cross-validation will partition the training pixels into n_partitions by kmeans clustering of the pixel coordinates. These partitions will then be used for cross-validation, which should provide more realistic performance measures if the data are spatially correlated. If these partioning schemes are not sufficient then a raster containing the group_ids of the partitions can be supplied using the group_raster option.

Although tree-based classifiers are insensitive to the scaling of the input data, other classifiers such as linear models may not perform optimally if some predictors have variances that are orders of magnitude larger than others. The -s flag adds a standardization preprocessing step to the classification and prediction to reduce this effect. Additionally, most of the classifiers do not perform well if there is a large class imbalance in the training data. Using the -b flag balances the training data by weighting of the minority classes relative to the majority class. This does not apply to the Naive Bayes or LinearDiscriminantAnalysis classifiers.

Non-ordinal, categorical predictors are also not specifically recognized by scikit-learn. Some classifiers are not very sensitive to this (i.e. decision trees) but generally, categorical predictors need to be converted to a suite of binary using onehot encoding (i.e. where each value in a categorical raster is parsed into a separate binary grid). Entering the indices (comma-separated) of the categorical rasters as they are listed in the imagery group as 0...n in the categorymaps option will cause onehot encoding to be performed on the fly during training and prediction. The feature importances are returned as per the original imagery group and represent the sum of the feature importances of the onehot-encoded variables. Note: it is important that the training samples all of the categories in the rasters, otherwise the onehot-encoding will fail when it comes to the prediction.

The module also offers the ability to save and load a classification or regression model (save_model=name[.gz]). Note that the model file size can become quite large; when using a supported filename extensions (incl. '.gz', '.bz2', '.xz' or '.lzma') the model file will be automatically compressed. Saving and loading a model allows a model to be fitted on one imagery group, with the prediction applied to additional imagery groups. This approach is commonly employed in species distribution or landslide susceptibility modelling whereby a classification or regression model is built with one set of predictors (e.g. present-day climatic variables) and then predictions can be performed on other imagery groups containing forecasted climatic variables.

For convenience when performing repeated classifications using different classifiers or parameters, the training data can be saved to a csv file using the save_training option. This data can then be loaded into subsequent classification runs, saving time by avoiding the need to repeatedly query the predictors.

NOTES uses the "scikit-learn" machine learning python package along with the "pandas" package. These packages need to be installed within your GRASS GIS Python environment. For Linux users, these packages should be available through the linux package manager. For MS-Windows users using a 64 bit GRASS, the easiest way of installing the packages is by using the precompiled binaries from Christoph Gohlke and by using the OSGeo4W installation method of GRASS, where the python setuptools can also be installed. You can then use 'easy_install pip' to install the pip package manager. Then, you can download the NumPy+MKL and scikit-learn .whl files and install them using 'pip install packagename.whl'. For MS-Windows with a 32 bit GRASS, scikit-learn is available in the OSGeo4W installer. is designed to keep system memory requirements relatively low. For this purpose, the rasters are read from the disk row-by-row, using the RasterRow method in PyGRASS. This however does not represent an efficient volume of data to pass to the classifiers, which are mostly multithreaded. Therefore, groups of rows specified by the rowincr parameter are passed to the classifier, and the reclassified image is reconstructed and written row-by-row back to the disk. rowincr=25 should be reasonable for most systems with 4-8 GB of ram. The row-by-row access however results in slow performance when sampling the imagery group to build the training data set when providing a raster as the trainingmap. Instead, the default behaviour is to read each predictor into memory at a time. If this still exceeds the system memory then the -l flag can be set to write each predictor to a numpy memmap file, and classification/regression can then be performed on rasters of any size irrespective of the available memory.

Many of the classifiers involve a random process which can causes a small amount of variation in the classification results, out-of-bag error, and feature importances. To enable reproducible results, a seed is supplied to the classifier. This can be changed using the randst parameter.


Here we are going to use the GRASS GIS sample North Carolina data set as a basis to perform a landsat classification. We are going to classify a Landsat 7 scene from 2000, using training information from an older (1996) land cover dataset.

Landsat 7 (2000) bands 7,4,2 color composite example:

Landsat 7 (2000) bands 7,4,2 color composite example

Note that this example must be run in the "landsat" mapset of the North Carolina sample data set location.

First, we are going to generate some training pixels from an older (1996) land cover classification:

g.region raster=landclass96 -p
r.random input=landclass96 npoints=1000 raster=landclass96_roi

Then we can use these training pixels to perform a classification on the more recently obtained landsat 7 image: group=lsat7_2000 trainingmap=landclass96_roi output=rf_classification \
  classifier=RandomForestClassifier n_estimators=500
# copy category labels from landclass training map to result
r.category rf_classification raster=landclass96_roi
# copy color scheme from landclass training map to result
r.colors rf_classification raster=landclass96_roi
r.category rf_classification

Random forest classification result:

Random forest classification result


Thanks for Paulo van Breugel and Vaclav Petras for testing.


Brenning, A. 2012. Spatial cross-validation and bootstrap for the assessment of prediction rules in remote sensing: the R package 'sperrorest'. 2012 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 23-27 July 2012, p. 5372-5375.

Scikit-learn: Machine Learning in Python, Pedregosa et al., JMLR 12, pp. 2825-2830, 2011.


Steven Pawley

Last changed: $Date: 2018-04-20 14:39:07 +0200 (Fri, 20 Apr 2018) $


Available at: source code (history)

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