Sticker neural sequence labeler
Bump version to 0.3.0
Deny unknown fields in configuration files
README: training and prediction instructions


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sticker is a sequence labeler using neural networks.


sticker is a sequence labeler that uses either recurrent neural networks or dilated convolution networks. In principle, it can be used to perform any sequence labeling task, but so far the focus has been on:

  • Part-of-speech tagging
  • Topological field tagging
  • Dependency parsing

Precompiled binaries

Precompiled binaries are available for Linux and macOS through GitHub releases. The binaries are distributed with a precompiled CPU version of Tensorflow.


Building sticker has the following requirements:

  • A reasonably modern Rust compiler.
  • Tensorflow built as a dynamic library (the Python module is only to construct/write the graph).


Install the dependencies using Homebrew:

$ brew install rustup-init libtensorflow
# Install/configure the Rust toolchain.
$ rustup-init

Then compile and install sticker:

$ cd sticker
$ cargo install --path sticker-utils

sticker should then be installed in ~/.cargo/bin/sticker-{tag,train,server}



Given an existing model configuration such as postag.conf, you can use sticker-tag to annotate data in CoNLL-X format:

$ sticker-tag postag.conf input.conll output.conll

When the input and output are not specified, sticker-tag will read from the standard input and write to the standard output.


sticker can also run as a simple server:

$ sticker-server postag.conf localhost:4000

This will load the model defined in postag.conf and then listen on a socket on localhost port 4000. You can then send data in CoNLL-X format to this port and the sticker will return the annotated data. The last chunk of data will only be written if the client shuts down the writing end off their socker (see the shutdown(2) manual page).


In order to train a model, a model configuration file is needed. This file describes settings such as which embeddings should be used. Sample configuration files for various tasks can be found in the examples directory. Given a configuration file, the first step is to create a shapes file.

$ sticker-prepare postag.conf train.conll postag.shapes

This file is used in the construction of the Tensorflow graph. Depending on which type of model you want to train, you can use one of the sticker-write-{conv,rnn,transformer}-graph scripts. RNNs are typically a good place to start. You can then define an RNN graph as follows:

$ sticker-write-rnn-graph postag.shapes postag.graph

This creates a graph with the default hyperparameters. To list the possible hyperparameters, use the --help option of the graph writing script. After the graph is created, update the graph setting in the configuration file (here postag.conf) to use the generated graph.

Finally, you can then train the model parameters:

$ sticker-train postag.conf train.conll validation.conll

The models are quite sensitive to the learning rate and may diverge when the learning rate is to high. The default learning rate is 0.01 and can be set using the lr option. For example, to use a learning rate of 0.001, use:

$ sticker-train --lr 0.001 postag.conf train.conll validation.conll

The training procedure will output the best epoch. Update the parameters setting in the configuration file to use that epoch.


You can report bugs and feature requests in the sticker issue tracker.