I hope this is the right place for this question. I am following the Stanford Deep Learning tutorial http://ufldl.stanford.edu/tutorial/supervised/SoftmaxRegression/ trying to implement gradient decent with softmax. For the indicator function in the equation below,

\begin{align} \nabla_{\theta^{(k)}} J(\theta) = - \sum_{i=1}^{m}{ \left[ x^{(i)} \left( 1\{ y^{(i)} = k\} - P(y^{(i)} = k | x^{(i)}; \theta) \right) \right] } \end{align}

I am thinking of creating a numpy array that will hold the indicator for all the elements of the input X, which I can then implement.

First of all, I'm not sure that creating an array to hold the indicators is the right way to go, but here is my implementation so far:

indicator = [[1 if X[i,j]==y[i] else 0 for j in range(X.shape[1])] for i in range(X.shape[0])]

where X is the input and y is the labels.

This implementation is erroneous, in addition to being quite slow. I wonder if someone could set me in the right direction. Thanks!

  • $\begingroup$ Can you make this question more about the indicator function, & less about Python code? If it's really about code, it is off topic here. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 16:34

3 Answers 3


The array of indicators for a single sample is just the one-hot representation of its label.

For instance, if there're in total 3 categories, and $x^{(i)}$ has the label $y^{(i)}=2$, then its one-hot representation is $[0,1,0]$.

In terms of code it should be something like

[[1 if y[i]==k else 0 for k in range(category_num)] for i in range(sample_num)]

This is a vectorized solution. Assuming:

N = # number of trails
C = # number of classes
labels = # vector of length N with values corresponding to the correct class


indicator = np.zeros((N,C))
indicator[np.arange(N), labels] = 1

The first line creates a matrix of all zeroes, and the second accesses indices, first to the correct column, and then by the class determined by the label.


I think you can do it in one line using numpy:

def indicator(predictions, label):
    """Indicator function is a function that returns 1 if prediction and label are the same."""
    if len(predictions) != len(label):
        raise Exception('len of predictions and labels must be the same')
    return [1 if k else 0 for k in np.equal(predictions, label)]

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