I was hoping there was some way to generate the .params and .json file needed to define an MXNet model, from a network trained using NetTrain[] in Mathematica. I was hopeful because I found these functions in the NeuralNetworks` package:


You can use them on a net link this:

<< NeuralNetworks`;
net = NetInitialize@NetChain[{
     ConvolutionLayer[20, {5, 5}],
     PoolingLayer[{2, 2}, {2, 2}],
     }, "Input" -> NetEncoder[{"Image", {32, 32}}]];
ImportString[Normal@NeuralNetworks`ToMXNetJSON[net][[1]], "RawJSON"]

Now, ToMXNetJSON[] returns a tuple, and it looks like the first element is the JSON for the symbol file. But I don't know what the second element is, and I don't have a clue as to what ToMXNetSymbol[] is returning.

Motivation: A solution to this would enable one to take any net from MMA and run it in C or Python with GPU inference!

  • $\begingroup$ Have you seen "WLNet"? It can be found in the Neural Networks guide. It is not JSON but is a way to serialise the net. $\endgroup$
    – Edmund
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 18:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Edmund yes I know about wlnet, but I need the net in mxnet. $\endgroup$
    – user5601
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 3:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for asking this question - I've wondered often the same thing $\endgroup$
    – M.R.
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 18:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I edited the tags to include undocumented but I had to drop one of the others to make room for it; I chose json. Please let me know if you find this acceptable. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @Mr.Wizard that's great $\endgroup$
    – user5601
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 16:17

1 Answer 1


It seems the model file in MXNet (checkpoint) is defined by two files: a ".json" file and a ".params" file. The json file contains the definition of the network, and the params file contains the actual weight and bias of each neuron. The params file is in the binary format of MXNet's NDArray representation.

Thus, to export a network in Mathematica to MXNet, we need to generate these two files. The json file can be generated easily with the NeuralNetworks``ToMXNetJSON. The param file can be generated using the MXNetLink``NDArrayExport. Here is an example of this process using MNIST example in the documentation.

We first load the packages

<< MXNetLink`;
<< NeuralNetworks`;
<< GeneralUtilities`;

and define the network

net = NetChain[{
   ConvolutionLayer[20, {5, 5}],
   PoolingLayer[{2, 2}, {2, 2}],
   ConvolutionLayer[50, {5, 5}],
   PoolingLayer[{2, 2}, {2, 2}],
  "Output" -> NetDecoder[{"Class", Range[0, 9]}],
  "Input" -> NetEncoder[{"Image", {28, 28}, "Grayscale"}]

enter image description here

Then we train the network

resource = ResourceObject["MNIST"];
trainingData = ResourceData[resource, "TrainingData"];
testData = ResourceData[resource, "TestData"];
trained = 
 NetTrain[net, trainingData, ValidationSet -> testData, 
  MaxTrainingRounds -> 3]

We will now export the trained network into the MXNet's model files.

The json file can be exported using ToMXNetJSON

jsonPath = "~/Downloads/MNIST-symbol.json";
Export[jsonPath, ToMXNetJSON[trained][[1]], "String"]
(* "~/Downloads/MNIST-symbol.json" *)

The second part of ToMXNetJSON[trained] contains the weights of our network. However, the weights are in Mathematica's RawArray format, so we need to convert those into MXNet's NDArray format. Also we will drop the encoder layer, and change the names of the layers to comply with the convention

paraPath = "~/Downloads/MNIST-0000.params";
ass = KeyDrop[ToMXNetJSON[trained][[2]], ".Inputs.Input"];

f[str_] := 
 If[StringFreeQ[str, "Arrays"], str, 
   StringSplit[str, ".Arrays."] /. {a_, b_} :> 
     StringJoin[{"arg:", a, "_", b}], {"Weights" -> "weight", 
    "Biases" -> "bias"}]]

NDArrayExport[paraPath, NDArrayCreate /@ KeyMap[f, ass]]
(* "~/Downloads/MNIST-0000.params" *)

Now the two files "MNIST-symbol.json" and "MNIST-0000.params" can be used to load the network in MXNet.

To verify that the files are correct, we can use ImportMXNetModel to import MXNet model files we just generated.

trained2 = 
 NetGraph[{ImportMXNetModel[jsonPath, paraPath]}, {}, 
  "Input" -> NetEncoder[{"Image", {28, 28}, "Grayscale"}], 
  "Output" -> NetDecoder[{"Class", Range[0, 9]}]]

enter image description here

And we see that the network from the MXNet's model files produces the same predictions as our original network:

testsample = RandomSample[testData, 100];

(trained[Keys[#], "Probabilities"] & /@ 
   testsample) == (trained2[Keys[#], "Probabilities"] & /@ testsample)
(* True *)

Edit for version 11.1

It seems that the structure of the implementation of neural network has been updated in 11.1. The trained weight is no longer in the NeuralNetworks``ToMXNetJSON. The trained weight can be accessed using NeuralNetworks``ToNetPlan.

plan = ToNetPlan[trained]

enter image description here

So to export the weight, we can do

NDArrayExport[paraPath, NDArrayCreate /@ KeyMap[f, plan["WeightArrays"]]]
  • $\begingroup$ This no longer works in 11.1 would you be able to update your answer, please? I believe ToMXJSON replaces ToMXNetJSON and ToMXNetJSON[trained][[2]] should be ToMXJSON[trained][[3]], but ImportMXNetModel[] is still failing for me... $\endgroup$
    – user5601
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ The import call gives the warning: ''Inferred inconsistent shapes for array "Weights" (a length-4 vector versus a rank-4 tensor).'' $\endgroup$
    – user5601
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the update! Would you be able to give a working example for either NetModel["SqueezeNet V1.1 Trained on ImageNet Competition Data", "EvaluationNet"] and NetModel["GloVe 300-Dimensional Word Vectors Trained on Wikipedia and Gigaword-5 Data", "EvaluationNet"]? $\endgroup$
    – user5601
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ For some nets (liek GloVe) we need to encode the SpecialArrays and FixedArrays into the mxnet files, how might that be done? $\endgroup$
    – user5601
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ @user5601 I think you can just use the pretrained network for MXNet at github.com/dmlc/mxnet-model-gallery. I think this pretrained network is also what Mathematica uses in the NetModel too. For GloVe, the trained network is an embedding layer, and the weights can be extracted directly using NetExtract[net, "Weights"] $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 1:55

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