TorchData: PyTorch Data loading utility library

Learn how to load image data with TorchData and train an image classifier.

April 10, 2022


May 23, 2023


PyTorch, deep learning, data

Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels

PyTorch 1.11 introduced a new library called TorchData, which provides common data loading primitives for constructing flexible and performant data pipelines. TorchData promotes composable data loading for code reusability with DataPipes.

DataPipes is the building block of TorchData and works out of the box with PyTorch’s DataLoader. It can be chained together to form a data pipeline where the data will be transformed by each DataPipe.

For example, suppose we have an image dataset in a folder with a CSV mapping of classes, and we want to create a DataLoader that returns a batch of image tensors and labels. To do this, we need to take the following steps:

  1. Read and parse the CSV.
    1. Get the image file path.
    2. Decode the label.
  2. Read the image.
  3. Convert the image to a tensor.
  4. Return the image tensor and the label index.

These steps can be chained together using DataPipes, where the initial data flows from the first step to the very last, applying transformations at each step.

Now, let’s see how to accomplish the same thing using TorchData code.

!pip install torchdata -q
import torch
from torchdata.datapipes.iter import (

from PIL import Image
from import DataLoader
from torchvision.transforms.functional import to_tensor

We will use CIFAR-10 dataset which has the same structure as we discussed.

From TorchData docs:

We have implemented over 50 DataPipes that provide different core functionalities, such as opening files, parsing texts, transforming samples, caching, shuffling, and batching. For users who are interested in connecting to cloud providers (such as Google Drive or AWS S3), the fsspec and iopath DataPipes will allow you to do so. The documentation provides detailed explanations and usage examples of each IterDataPipe and MapDataPipe.

TorchData has 50 prebuilt DataPipes which you can use directly. Here we will use use FileOpener and parse_csv to read the csv data.

ROOT = "/Users/aniket/datasets/cifar-10/train"

csv_dp = FileLister(f"{ROOT}/../trainLabels.csv")
csv_dp = FileOpener(csv_dp)
csv_dp = csv_dp.parse_csv()

for i, e in enumerate(csv_dp):
    if i > 10:
['id', 'label']
['1', 'frog']
['2', 'truck']
['3', 'truck']
['4', 'deer']
['5', 'automobile']
['6', 'automobile']
['7', 'bird']
['8', 'horse']
['9', 'ship']
['10', 'cat']

We don’t need the header of csv in our datapipe ([id, label]), so we will use the inbuilt Filter DataPipe to remove it.

csv_dp = Filter(csv_dp, lambda x: x[1] != "label")
labels = {e: i for i, e in enumerate(set([e[1] for e in csv_dp]))}

for i, e in enumerate(csv_dp):
    if i > 4:
['1', 'frog']
['2', 'truck']
['3', 'truck']
['4', 'deer']
['5', 'automobile']

We have a DataPipe called csv_dp, which flows file id and label. We need to convert the file id into a filepath and the label into a label index.

We can map functions to the DataPipe and even form a chain of mappings to apply transformations.

def get_filename(data):
    idx, label = data
    return f"{ROOT}/{idx}.png", label

dp =
for i, e in enumerate(dp):
    if i > 4:
('/Users/aniket/datasets/cifar-10/train/1.png', 'frog')
('/Users/aniket/datasets/cifar-10/train/2.png', 'truck')
('/Users/aniket/datasets/cifar-10/train/3.png', 'truck')
('/Users/aniket/datasets/cifar-10/train/4.png', 'deer')
('/Users/aniket/datasets/cifar-10/train/5.png', 'automobile')
from IPython.display import display

def load_image(data):
    file, label = data
    return, label

dp =

for i, e in enumerate(dp):
    if i >= 5:


Finally, we map the datapipe to process image to Tensor and label to index.

def process(data):
    img, label = data
    return to_tensor(img), labels[label]

dp =

If you have come this far, then I have a bonus for you: learn how to train an image classifier using DataPipe and PyTorch Lightning Flash ⚡️.

Flash expects the dataloader to be in the form of a dictionary with keys input and target. The input key should contain the image tensor, and the target key should contain the label index.

dp = x: {"input": x[0], "target": x[1]})

As we discussed that DataPipes are fully compatible with DataLoader so this is how you convert a DataPipe to DataLoader.

dl = DataLoader(

Training an Image Classifier with Flash is super easy. Flash provides Deep Learning tasks based APIs that you can use to train your model. Currently, our task is image classification so let’s import the ImageClassifier and build our model.

from flash.image import ImageClassifier
import flash
model = ImageClassifier(
    num_classes=len(labels), backbone="efficientnet_b0", pretrained=False
Using 'efficientnet_b0' provided by rwightman/pytorch-image-models (
# Create the trainer and finetune the model
trainer = flash.Trainer(max_epochs=3)
GPU available: False, used: False
TPU available: False, using: 0 TPU cores
IPU available: False, using: 0 IPUs
HPU available: False, using: 0 HPUs, dl)

  | Name          | Type           | Params
0 | train_metrics | ModuleDict     | 0     
1 | val_metrics   | ModuleDict     | 0     
2 | test_metrics  | ModuleDict     | 0     
3 | adapter       | DefaultAdapter | 4.0 M 
4.0 M     Trainable params
0         Non-trainable params
4.0 M     Total params
16.081    Total estimated model params size (MB)