This notebook demonstrates the effects of high and low temperature settings on softmax. It includes code from the ground up to build an intuitive understanding of what is going on.

import math


Let’s start something likely familiar, probabilities. Assume we have two possibilities, the first with a probability of 25% and the second with a probability of 75%.

probabilities = [0.25, 0.75]; 
[0.25, 0.75]

What’s the deal with logits then?

From Stackoverflow:

In Math, Logit is a function that maps probabilities ([0, 1]) to R ((-inf, inf))

Logits are just the log of the probabilities, so we can take the log of each probability above to get the logits.

def logitsFrom(probabilities):
    return [math.log(x) for x in probabilities]

logits = logitsFrom(probabilities); logits
[-1.3862943611198906, -0.2876820724517809]

In machine learning, the logits layer is a layer near the end of a model, typically a classifier, which contains the logit of each classification.

What is softmax?

The logits layer is often followed by a softmax layer, which turns the logits back into probabilities (between 0 and 1). From StackOverflow:

Softmax is a function that maps [-inf, +inf] to [0, 1] similar as Sigmoid. But Softmax also normalizes the sum of the values(output vector) to be 1.

We can implement softmax on our logits array like so:

def softmax(logits):
    bottom = sum([math.exp(x) for x in logits])
    softmax = [math.exp(x)/bottom for x in logits]
    return softmax

softmax(logits), sum(softmax(logits))
([0.25, 0.75], 1.0)

As you can see, we have our starting probability numbers back.

What is softmax with temperature?

Temperature is a hyperparameter which is applied to logits to affect the final probabilities from the softmax.

  • A low temperature (below 1) makes the model more confident.
  • A high temperature (above 1) makes the model less confident.

Let’s see both in turn.

Low Temperature Example

low_temp = 0.5
logits_low_temp = [x/low_temp for x in logits]
[-2.772588722239781, -0.5753641449035618]

Now let’s see what happens when we send this through softmax again.

softmax(logits_low_temp), sum(softmax(logits_low_temp))
([0.1, 0.9], 1.0)

The higher probability of the two has risen from 0.75 to 0.9. The lower probability has dropped to 0.1.

High Temperature Example

# What happens if we apply a hightemperature?
low_temp = 5
logits_high_temp = [x/low_temp for x in logits]
[-0.2772588722239781, -0.05753641449035618]
softmax(logits_high_temp), sum(softmax(logits_high_temp))
([0.44528931866219296, 0.5547106813378071], 1.0)

With a high temperature setting, our probabilities are closer together.