TensorFlow LSTM Example: A Beginner’s Guide


LSTM (Long Short-Term Memory) is a type of Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) that is widely used in deep learning. It is particularly useful in processing and making predictions based on sequential data, such as time series, speech recognition, and natural language processing.

TensorFlow is an open-source platform for machine learning developed by Google Brain Team. It provides a comprehensive set of tools and libraries for building and deploying machine learning models.

In this tutorial, we will walk through a step-by-step example of how to use TensorFlow to build an LSTM model for time series prediction. We will start by importing the necessary libraries and loading the dataset. Then we will preprocess the data and split it into training and testing sets.

Next, we will define the LSTM model architecture using TensorFlow’s Sequential API. We will also specify the hyperparameters for the model, such as the number of epochs and batch size.

After defining the model, we will train it on the training set and evaluate its performance on the testing set. We will visualize the results using matplotlib to see how well our model is able to predict future values in the time series.

Overall, this tutorial aims to provide a beginner-friendly introduction to using TensorFlow and LSTM for time series prediction. By following along with this example, you should gain a better understanding of how to build and train your own deep learning models using TensorFlow.

What is TensorFlow?

TensorFlow is an open-source machine learning library developed by Google Brain team. It is used to build and train machine learning models, including deep neural networks. TensorFlow is highly flexible and can be used for a wide range of applications, including image and speech recognition, natural language processing, and recommendation systems.

One of the key features of TensorFlow is its ability to handle large datasets efficiently. It uses data flow graphs to represent computations, which allows it to distribute computations across multiple CPUs or GPUs. This makes it possible to train complex models on large datasets in a reasonable amount of time.

TensorFlow also provides a high-level API called Keras, which makes it easy to build and train deep learning models. Keras provides a simple interface for defining layers, specifying activation functions, and configuring optimization algorithms.

In this blog post, we will use TensorFlow to build an LSTM model for predicting stock prices. We will walk through each step of the process, from loading the data to evaluating the model’s performance. By the end of this tutorial, you should have a good understanding of how LSTM models work and how to implement them using TensorFlow.

What is LSTM?

LSTM stands for Long Short-Term Memory, which is a type of Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) architecture. RNNs are designed to handle sequential data by processing each input based on the previous inputs. In other words, they have memory of the past inputs.

LSTM takes this concept further by introducing a cell state that can keep information over long periods of time. This cell state is controlled by three gates: the input gate, the forget gate, and the output gate. These gates determine what information to keep or discard from the cell state.

The input gate decides what information to add to the cell state, while the forget gate decides what information to remove from the cell state. The output gate controls what information to output from the cell state.

LSTM has become a popular choice in natural language processing tasks, such as language translation and sentiment analysis. This is because it can effectively handle long-term dependencies in sequential data, which is common in natural language.

In TensorFlow, you can implement LSTM using the `tf.keras.layers.LSTM` layer. This layer takes in a sequence of inputs and outputs a sequence of hidden states and a final cell state. You can then use these outputs for further processing or prediction tasks.

Let’s take a look at an example implementation of LSTM in TensorFlow.

import tensorflow as tf

# Define LSTM model
model = tf.keras.Sequential([
    tf.keras.layers.LSTM(64, input_shape=(10, 1)),

# Compile model
model.compile(loss='mse', optimizer='adam')

# Train model
X_train = ... # input data with shape (batch_size, 10, 1)
y_train = ... # target data with shape (batch_size, 1)
model.fit(X_train, y_train, epochs=10)

In this example, we define an LSTM model with an input shape of `(10, 1)`, meaning it takes in a sequence of 10 inputs with 1 feature each. We then compile the model with a mean squared error loss function and the Adam optimizer. Finally, we train the model on some input and target data for 10 epochs.

Overall, LSTM is a powerful tool for handling sequential data in machine learning tasks, and TensorFlow provides easy-to-use tools for implementing it in your models.

Setting up the Environment

To get started with the TensorFlow LSTM example, we first need to set up our environment. Here are the steps you need to follow:

1. Install Python: You can download Python from the official website and install it on your machine. Make sure you install the latest version of Python.

2. Install TensorFlow: Once you have installed Python, you can use pip (Python’s package manager) to install TensorFlow. Open your command prompt and run the following command:

pip install tensorflow

This will install the latest version of TensorFlow on your machine.

3. Install NumPy: NumPy is a popular Python library for numerical computing. You can install it using pip by running the following command:

pip install numpy

4. Install Pandas: Pandas is another popular Python library for data manipulation and analysis. You can install it using pip by running the following command:

pip install pandas

5. Install Matplotlib: Matplotlib is a plotting library for Python. You can install it using pip by running the following command:

pip install matplotlib

Once you have installed all these libraries, you are ready to start working with the TensorFlow LSTM example. In the next section, we will dive into the code and see how we can implement an LSTM network using TensorFlow.

Loading the Data

In order to train a TensorFlow LSTM model, we need to first load the data. In this example, we will be using the famous “Alice in Wonderland” book as our dataset. We will use the Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) library to preprocess the text data.

First, let’s install NLTK using pip:

!pip install nltk

Next, we can import NLTK and download the necessary resources:

import nltk


Now we can load the text file and convert it into a list of sentences using NLTK’s `sent_tokenize()` function:

from nltk.tokenize import sent_tokenize

with open('alice.txt', 'r') as f:
    text = f.read()

sentences = sent_tokenize(text)

We can also preprocess the sentences by removing stop words and converting all words to lowercase:

from nltk.corpus import stopwords

stop_words = set(stopwords.words('english'))

preprocessed_sentences = []

for sentence in sentences:
    words = sentence.lower().split()
    filtered_words = [word for word in words if word not in stop_words]

Now we have our preprocessed data ready to be used for training our TensorFlow LSTM model.

Preprocessing the Data

Before we can use the data for our LSTM model, we need to preprocess it. First, we will load the dataset using pandas and split it into training and testing sets. We will use 80% of the data for training and the remaining 20% for testing.

import pandas as pd

# Load dataset
data = pd.read_csv('dataset.csv')

# Split into train and test sets
train_size = int(len(data) * 0.8)
train_data, test_data = data[:train_size], data[train_size:]

Next, we need to normalize the data so that it falls within a certain range, typically between 0 and 1. This helps the model converge faster during training. We can use scikit-learn’s MinMaxScaler to do this.

from sklearn.preprocessing import MinMaxScaler

# Normalize data
scaler = MinMaxScaler()
train_data = scaler.fit_transform(train_data)
test_data = scaler.transform(test_data)

Finally, we need to reshape the data into the format expected by our LSTM model. The input to an LSTM model is a 3D array of shape (samples, timesteps, features). In our case, samples refer to the number of rows in our dataset, timesteps refer to the number of time steps in each sample sequence, and features refer to the number of variables in each time step.

import numpy as np

def create_sequences(data, seq_length):
    X = []
    y = []
    for i in range(len(data) - seq_length):
    return np.array(X), np.array(y)

# Define sequence length
seq_length = 50

# Create sequences for training set
X_train, y_train = create_sequences(train_data, seq_length)

# Create sequences for testing set
X_test, y_test = create_sequences(test_data, seq_length)

# Reshape input data
X_train = X_train.reshape((X_train.shape[0], X_train.shape[1], 1))
X_test = X_test.reshape((X_test.shape[0], X_test.shape[1], 1))

With the data preprocessed and in the correct format, we can now move on to building our LSTM model.

Building the LSTM Model

To build an LSTM model using TensorFlow, we need to first import the necessary libraries. We will be using the Keras API of TensorFlow to build our model.

import tensorflow as tf
from tensorflow.keras.models import Sequential
from tensorflow.keras.layers import LSTM, Dense

Next, we define the architecture of our LSTM model. The first layer is the LSTM layer with 128 units and input shape of (X_train.shape[1], X_train.shape[2]). The return sequences parameter is set to True as we want to stack multiple LSTM layers.

model = Sequential()
model.add(LSTM(units=128, return_sequences=True, input_shape=(X_train.shape[1], X_train.shape[2])))

We then add two more LSTM layers with 64 units each and return sequences set to True.

model.add(LSTM(units=64, return_sequences=True))
model.add(LSTM(units=64, return_sequences=True))

Finally, we add a dense layer with a single output unit and compile the model with mean squared error loss and Adam optimizer.

model.compile(loss='mean_squared_error', optimizer='adam')

That’s it! We have successfully built our LSTM model using TensorFlow.

Training the Model

To train the LSTM model, we need to define the loss function and optimizer. In this example, we will use the mean squared error as the loss function and the Adam optimizer.

model.compile(loss='mean_squared_error', optimizer='adam')

Next, we can train the model using the `fit()` method. We will train for 100 epochs with a batch size of 1.

model.fit(X_train, y_train, epochs=100, batch_size=1, verbose=2)

During training, we can monitor the loss and visualize it using a graph. This can help us determine if our model is overfitting or underfitting.

plt.title('Model Loss')

After training, we can evaluate the model on the test data and calculate its accuracy.

trainScore = model.evaluate(X_train, y_train, verbose=0)
print('Train Score: %.2f MSE (%.2f RMSE)' % (trainScore, math.sqrt(trainScore)))
testScore = model.evaluate(X_test, y_test, verbose=0)
print('Test Score: %.2f MSE (%.2f RMSE)' % (testScore, math.sqrt(testScore)))

It’s important to note that LSTM models can be computationally expensive to train. Depending on the size of your data and complexity of your model, training may take a significant amount of time.

Evaluating the Model

Now that we have trained our LSTM model, it’s time to evaluate its performance. In TensorFlow, we can do this by using the `evaluate()` method of the model object.

First, we need to load the test data and preprocess it in the same way as we did for the training data. Once we have preprocessed the test data, we can evaluate the model using the `evaluate()` method. This method takes two arguments: the test data and its corresponding labels.

# Load and preprocess test data
test_data = ...
test_labels = ...

test_data = preprocess_data(test_data)

# Evaluate the model
loss, accuracy = model.evaluate(test_data, test_labels)

The `evaluate()` method returns two values: the loss and accuracy of the model on the test data. The loss is a measure of how well the model is able to predict the correct output, while the accuracy is a measure of how often the model is correct.

It’s important to note that we should only use the test data for evaluation purposes and not for training. Using the same data for both training and evaluation can lead to overfitting, where the model performs well on the training data but poorly on new, unseen data.

In addition to evaluating the overall performance of our model, we can also look at individual predictions using the `predict()` method. This method takes a single input example and returns its predicted output.

# Make a prediction on a single input example
example = ...
prediction = model.predict(preprocess_data(example))

By examining individual predictions, we can gain insights into how our model is making decisions and identify areas where it may be making errors. This can help us improve our model and make it more accurate for future predictions.

Predicting Future Values

To predict future values using TensorFlow LSTM, we can use the trained model to generate new sequences of data. These new sequences can then be used to predict future values.

First, we need to create a seed sequence of data that the model will use to generate the new sequence. This seed sequence should be similar to the data used to train the model.

Once we have the seed sequence, we can use the trained model to generate a new sequence of data. To do this, we need to call the `model.predict()` method and pass in the seed sequence.

The `model.predict()` method will return a new sequence of data that we can use to predict future values. We can repeat this process multiple times to generate longer sequences of data.

Finally, we can use the generated sequence of data to predict future values. The predicted values will be based on the patterns learned by the LSTM model during training.

Here’s an example code snippet that demonstrates how to predict future values using TensorFlow LSTM:

# Create a seed sequence
seed = [0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4]

# Generate a new sequence of data
for i in range(10):
    # Reshape the seed sequence for input into the model
    x_input = np.array(seed).reshape((1, n_steps, n_features))
    # Generate a prediction for the next value in the sequence
    yhat = model.predict(x_input, verbose=0)
    # Add the predicted value to the seed sequence
# Print the generated sequence

In this example, we create a seed sequence with four values and then generate a new sequence of ten values using the trained LSTM model. The generated sequence is then printed out for inspection.

It’s important to note that predicting future values using LSTM models is not an exact science. The predictions are based on patterns learned during training and may not always be accurate. It’s always a good idea to validate the predictions using real-world data.


In conclusion, this TensorFlow LSTM example has provided a beginner’s guide to understanding the basics of LSTM neural networks and their implementation using TensorFlow. We have seen how LSTMs can be used for time series prediction tasks and how they can effectively model sequential data.

We started by discussing the architecture of an LSTM cell and its components, such as the forget gate, input gate, output gate, and cell state. We then moved on to implement an LSTM model using TensorFlow, which involved defining the model architecture, compiling it with an optimizer and loss function, and training it on our dataset.

Finally, we evaluated our model’s performance using metrics such as mean squared error and visualized our predictions against the actual values. Overall, this example provides a solid foundation for anyone looking to dive deeper into the world of deep learning with LSTMs and TensorFlow.
Interested in learning more? Check out our Introduction to Python course!

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