Callbacks and Model Checkpointing in Keras

In machine learning, it is common to train a model for a large number of epochs to achieve better performance. However, training for a longer time may lead to overfitting or other issues. To overcome this problem, Keras provides a mechanism called callbacks, which are functions that can be applied at various stages of the training process to observe or modify the behavior of the model.

One important use case of callbacks is model checkpointing. Model checkpointing enables us to save the weights of a model during training, allowing us to load the best weights later on and avoid the need to retrain the model from scratch.

Understanding Callbacks in Keras

Callbacks are objects that are passed to the fit() method of a Keras model. They can be used to perform various actions at different stages of the training process such as at the start or end of an epoch, before or after a batch, etc. Keras provides several built-in callbacks, but you can also create custom callbacks to suit your specific needs.

Callbacks in Keras follow a simple protocol. Each callback is a class that implements certain methods and attributes. Here are a few commonly used built-in callbacks in Keras:

  1. ModelCheckpoint: This callback saves the model weights after every epoch. It allows you to specify a file path where the weights will be saved.

  2. EarlyStopping: This callback stops the training if a monitored metric stops improving. It helps to prevent overfitting and saves computational resources.

  3. TensorBoard: This callback writes logs that can be used by TensorBoard, a visualization tool provided by TensorFlow.

  4. LearningRateScheduler: This callback allows you to define a schedule to adjust the learning rate during training.

Model Checkpointing

Model checkpointing involves saving the model weights during or at the end of each epoch. This is useful because it allows us to track the progress of training and resume training from the last saved weights if needed. The saved weights can also be utilized for evaluating the model's performance on unseen data.

In Keras, the ModelCheckpoint callback simplifies the process of saving model weights by automatically saving the best-observed model or saving weights at a fixed interval of epochs. You can define the file path, specify the monitored quantity (such as validation loss or accuracy), and choose whether to save only the weights or the entire model.

Here's an example of using the ModelCheckpoint callback in Keras:

from keras.callbacks import ModelCheckpoint

# Define the model

# Define the callback
checkpoint = ModelCheckpoint(filepath='weights.{epoch:02d}-{val_loss:.2f}.hdf5',

# Train the model, y_train, validation_data=(x_val, y_val), callbacks=[checkpoint], epochs=10)

In this example, the ModelCheckpoint callback is configured to save the model weights in the format 'weights.{epoch:02d}-{val_loss:.2f}.hdf5'. This means that at the end of each epoch, the weights will be saved with the current epoch number and validation loss in the file name.


Callbacks and model checkpointing provide powerful capabilities in Keras to enhance the training process of machine learning models. By incorporating callbacks into your workflow, you can automate actions during training, like saving model weights, early stopping, adjusting learning rates, and more. This not only saves time and computational resources but also allows you to experiment and fine-tune your models efficiently.

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