Machine Learning Using Rust


Rust is a programming language created by Mozilla that focuses on being safe, fast, and good at doing many things at the same time. It was made in 2010 to solve problems in building reliable and efficient software. Rust is especially known for preventing common mistakes that can happen in programming. It looks a bit like C and C++ but puts a lot of emphasis on keeping your computer's memory safe. This makes Rust popular for developers who want both high-performance and sturdy code. Rust allows developers to use high-level ideas without making the program slower. One unique thing about Rust is its ownership system and borrowing features, which help manage memory safely, ensuring both safety and performance, especially when doing many things at once. While Rust started for system programming, it's now used in web development, networking, and even machine learning as it continues to grow and improve.


The growing significance of machine learning in various industries

Machine learning (ML) has emerged as a transformative force across various industries, from healthcare and finance to manufacturing and technology. The ability of ML algorithms to analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and make intelligent decisions has revolutionized how businesses operate and solve complex problems. Applications such as image recognition, natural language processing, and recommendation systems have become integral parts of modern technology.

Need for efficient and high-performance programming languages in ML

In machine learning, we do a lot of computer work that requires a lot of power, like getting data ready, teaching models, and making predictions. As our models get more complicated and our datasets get bigger, we need our computers to work efficiently. Regular programming languages, while good for many things, might not be fast enough for machine learning. That's why we use special languages that are good at handling these tasks quickly. These languages help us run our programs faster, so we can process and understand data in real-time or without waiting too long. They also make it easy to use machine learning on different kinds of devices, from small ones to big powerful servers.

Rust Features for Machine Learning

Let's explore Rust features that can be used in Machine Learning.

Memory Safety and Zero-Cost Abstractions

When we work with big amounts of data and complex tasks in machine learning, our computer mustn't make mistakes in handling that information. Rust, the programming language, has a special system to make sure our computer's memory is used safely. This helps prevent errors that could cause the program to act strangely, crash, or even open up security risks. In the world of machine learning, where the accuracy of our data is crucial, avoiding these errors is super important. Rust's ownership system is like a set of rules that ensures our computer's memory is managed properly. It helps avoid common mistakes like different parts of the program accidentally changing the same piece of data at the same time. This reduces the chances of bugs that could mess up our machine-learning models. Another cool thing about Rust is that it lets us use high-level ideas in our code without slowing down the program's performance. This is important in machine learning, where we often work with lots of data or complex calculations.

Ownership and Borrowing

Rust's ownership system is a unique feature that sets it apart from many other programming languages, particularly in the context of memory management. At its core, ownership refers to the way Rust manages memory, ensuring both memory safety and performance. Here's a breakdown of key concepts:

  • Ownership - In Rust, every piece of memory has a variable that is its "owner." There can only be one owner at a time, and when the owner goes out of scope, Rust automatically deallocates the memory. This prevents common issues like memory leaks.
  • Borrowing -  Instead of passing variables by reference or value, Rust introduces the concept of borrowing. When a variable is borrowed, the original owner retains control, but other parts of the code can temporarily access the borrowed variable. Borrowing can be either mutable or immutable, depending on whether the borrowed data can be modified.
  • Lifetimes - Rust uses lifetimes to ensure that references are valid for the appropriate duration. This prevents dangling references, where a reference outlives the data it points to, leading to undefined behavior.
  • Move Semantics - When ownership is transferred, known as a "move," the original variable loses access to its data. This prevents accidental use of data after it has been moved, enhancing safety

Borrowing and Its Impact on Preventing Data Races

  • Concurrency and Data Races - In concurrent programming, data races occur when two or more threads access shared data concurrently, and at least one of them modifies the data. Rust's ownership system helps prevent data races by enforcing strict rules on mutable references.
  • Mutable Borrowing - Rust's borrowing rules shine in scenarios where multiple parts of code need to work with the same data concurrently. Only one part of the code can have mutable access to the data at any given time, eliminating the possibility of data races.
  • Ownership and Immutability - By default, references in Rust are immutable, meaning they cannot modify the data they point to. This reduces the chances of unintentional side effects in a concurrent environment.
  • Fearless Concurrency - The ownership system, combined with Rust's fearless concurrency model, allows developers to write concurrent code with confidence. The compiler statically checks and enforces ownership and borrowing rules, catching potential issues at compile-time rather than runtime.
  • Preventing Bugs at Compile Time - The prevention of data races through ownership and borrowing is a significant advantage. Bugs related to concurrency can be challenging to diagnose and reproduce, but Rust's approach ensures that these issues are caught early in the development process.

Concurrency and Parallelism

Rust makes it easier for developers to speed up tasks in machine learning by using multiple processors at the same time. It has a helpful tool called the Rayon crate that simplifies this process. This means tasks like going through big sets of data or making changes to each piece of data can happen much faster.

Rust also supports something called SIMD, which makes certain operations happen all at once on different pieces of data. This is very useful for tasks in machine learning that involve a lot of calculations, like working with matrices. Rust's way of writing code and its focus on safety help make sure that when we speed things up, we don't introduce mistakes, which is crucial in machine learning.

Rust Libraries for Machine Learning

Following are some powerful crates of Rust that are used in Machine Learning.

Tensor Crate

The Tensor Crate stands out as a powerful Rust library designed for the efficient handling of tensors, which are fundamental data structures in machine learning. Tensors are multi-dimensional arrays that are frequently utilized in machine learning algorithms for data representation and manipulation.

Features and Functionalities for Handling Tensors

  • Multi-dimensional Arrays - Tensor Crate provides a flexible and efficient implementation of multi-dimensional arrays, allowing developers to work seamlessly with data of varying dimensions, a crucial aspect in machine learning where data is often represented as tensors.
  • Broadcasting - The library supports broadcasting, enabling operations on tensors of different shapes and sizes without the need for explicit loops. This feature simplifies code and enhances the expressiveness of mathematical operations in machine learning algorithms.
  • Data Type Agnosticism - Tensor Crate is designed to be agnostic to data types, allowing for the manipulation of tensors with elements of different types. This flexibility is valuable in scenarios where diverse data representations are used within a machine-learning workflow.
  • Parallel Computing - Leveraging Rust's concurrency features, Tensor Crate is optimized for parallel computing, enabling efficient processing of large-scale data sets. This is particularly beneficial for machine learning tasks that involve extensive numerical computations.

Integration with Popular ML Frameworks

  • TensorFlow Compatibility - Tensor Crate is designed with interoperability in mind. It seamlessly integrates with popular machine learning frameworks like TensorFlow, allowing developers to leverage the strengths of these frameworks while benefiting from Rust's performance and safety.
  • Graph Computation Integration - Many machine learning models involve graph-based computations, and Tensor Crate's integration with ML frameworks extends to graph-based operations. This makes it a valuable tool for building and manipulating computation graphs in a Rust-based machine-learning pipeline.
  • Extensible Architecture - Tensor Crate's architecture is extensible, making it easy for developers to contribute custom functionalities or extend existing features. This extensibility contributes to its adaptability within the broader machine-learning ecosystem.
  • Efficient Memory Management - Rust's ownership and borrowing system ensures efficient memory management, a crucial aspect in machine learning applications dealing with large datasets. Tensor Crate's design aligns with Rust's principles.


Rust's NDarray library is a powerful tool designed to handle multidimensional array operations with ease and efficiency. Built to facilitate complex numerical computations, NDarray provides a versatile framework for working with arrays of various dimensions. The library is particularly well-suited for applications in scientific computing, machine learning, and data analysis where manipulating multi-dimensional data structures is a common requirement.

Key Features of NDarray

  • Dynamic Dimensionality - NDarray supports arrays with dynamic dimensions, allowing developers to work with tensors of varying sizes without sacrificing performance.
  • Flexible Indexing - The library provides flexible indexing options, enabling users to access and modify elements in arrays using intuitive syntax. This flexibility enhances code readability and makes array manipulation more convenient.
  • Broadcasting - NDarray incorporates broadcasting, a powerful feature that simplifies operations on arrays with different shapes. This capability enables the writing of concise and expressive code, reducing the need for explicit loops and enhancing the overall productivity of developers.
  • Integration with Rust Ecosystem - NDarray seamlessly integrates with Rust's ownership system, leveraging the language's safety features while delivering high-performance array operations. This tight integration ensures memory safety without compromising on efficiency.

Performance Advantages over Traditional Array Libraries

NDarray's performance advantages over traditional array libraries make it a compelling choice for developers working on computationally intensive tasks, such as machine learning algorithms and scientific simulations.

  • Zero-Cost Abstractions - Rust's zero-cost abstractions ensure that high-level operations on NDarray do not incur additional runtime overhead. The abstractions used in the library allow developers to write expressive code without sacrificing performance, making NDarray competitive with low-level languages like C and C++.
  • Memory Safety without Compromise - Rust's ownership system ensures memory safety by preventing common programming errors like null pointer dereferencing and data races. NDarray benefits from this safety mechanism, reducing the likelihood of bugs and making it a reliable choice for critical applications.
  • Parallelism and Concurrency - NDarray's design aligns with Rust's focus on concurrency and parallelism. The library allows developers to take advantage of multi-core architectures, distributing computations efficiently and accelerating processing times for large-scale data.
  • Optimized Algorithms - NDarray incorporates optimized algorithms for common array operations, further enhancing its performance. The library is designed to leverage hardware capabilities, ensuring that computations are carried out efficiently on modern processors.

Tch-rs - Rust Bindings for PyTorch

Tch-rs, short for "Torch-rs" or "Torch Rust," is a set of Rust bindings for PyTorch, a popular deep-learning framework. These bindings provide Rust developers with access to PyTorch's rich set of functionalities for building and training neural networks. Tch-rs acts as a bridge, allowing developers to leverage the power of PyTorch while writing their machine-learning applications in Rust. One of the key advantages of Tch-rs is its ability to tap into the extensive PyTorch ecosystem. PyTorch, known for its dynamic computational graph and intuitive APIs, has gained widespread adoption in the machine-learning community. Tch-rs helps to integrate the advanced deep-learning capabilities of PyTorch with the performance and safety features of Rust by offering Rust bindings for PyTorch.

Seamless Integration of Rust with PyTorch Functionalities

Tch-rs goes beyond mere compatibility, aiming to seamlessly integrate Rust and PyTorch functionalities. This integration opens up opportunities for developers to utilize the benefits of both languages in their machine-learning projects.

  • Performance Boost - Rust is renowned for its focus on performance without compromising safety. Tch-rs enables developers to write performance-critical components of their machine-learning applications in Rust, seamlessly integrating them with the PyTorch runtime. This combination allows for high-performance computations while benefiting from Rust's memory safety guarantees.
  • Concurrency and Parallelism - Rust's ownership system, coupled with Tch-rs, allows for efficient handling of concurrency and parallelism in machine learning tasks. By leveraging Rust's fearless concurrency model, developers can write concurrent code without the fear of data races, enhancing the scalability of their applications.
  • Interoperability - Tch-rs facilitates smooth interoperability between Rust and Python, making it easier for developers to combine Rust's strengths with existing Python-based machine-learning workflows. This interoperability is crucial for teams that want to introduce Rust into their machine learning stack gradually.
  • Ecosystem Compatibility - Tch-rs ensures that Rust developers can seamlessly utilize the myriad of PyTorch extensions, modules, and pre-trained models available in the PyTorch ecosystem. This allows for quick prototyping and adoption of state-of-the-art models within a Rust-based machine learning project.


Rusty-machine is a feature-rich machine-learning library designed for the Rust programming language, offering a comprehensive set of tools for developers venturing into the realm of machine learning. Developed with a focus on simplicity, performance, and flexibility, Rusty-machine provides a robust foundation for building and experimenting with machine learning models.

Key Features and Use Cases

  • Regression and Classification - Rusty-machine excels in implementing regression and classification algorithms. Its collection includes linear regression, logistic regression, and support vector machines, empowering developers to tackle a wide range of predictive modeling tasks.
  • Clustering - The library offers various clustering algorithms, such as k-means and hierarchical clustering, facilitating unsupervised learning applications. Clustering is vital for tasks like customer segmentation and anomaly detection.
  • Neural Networks - Rusty-machine supports the implementation of neural networks, a fundamental component of deep learning. Developers can build and train neural networks for tasks like image recognition, natural language processing, and more.
  • Dimensionality Reduction - With algorithms like principal component analysis (PCA), Rusty-machine enables users to reduce the dimensionality of their datasets. This is particularly useful for visualizing high-dimensional data and enhancing the efficiency of subsequent machine-learning tasks.
  • Ensemble Learning - The library includes ensemble methods like random forests and gradient boosting, allowing developers to create robust models by combining multiple weaker models. Ensemble learning is valuable for improving prediction accuracy and handling complex relationships within data.
  • Cross-Validation and Model Evaluation - Rusty-machine provides tools for cross-validation and model evaluation, essential for assessing the performance of machine learning models. This ensures reliable and unbiased estimates of a model's effectiveness.
  • Customization and Extensibility - One of the standout features of Rusty machine is its emphasis on customization and extensibility. Developers can easily integrate their algorithms, experiment with novel approaches, and adapt the library to suit specific project requirements.
  • Performance Optimization - Leveraging Rust's focus on performance, Rusty machine is designed for efficiency. The library's algorithms are implemented with a keen eye on optimization, making it well-suited for handling large datasets and computationally intensive tasks.
  • Use Cases - Rusty-machine finds applications in various domains, including finance, healthcare, and natural language processing. Whether it's predicting financial market trends, diagnosing medical conditions, or processing and understanding human language, the library provides a reliable foundation for building machine-learning solutions.

Real-world examples of using Rust in machine learning projects

Following are some of the real-world examples.

Performance Improvements

Mozilla's DeepSpeech

  • Challenge - Mozilla's DeepSpeech, an open-source automatic speech recognition (ASR) engine, required high-performance computing to process vast amounts of audio data.
  • Solution - By rewriting critical components of DeepSpeech in Rust, developers achieved notable performance improvements. Rust's low-level control over memory and zero-cost abstractions allowed for optimized code, resulting in faster inference times and better overall system responsiveness.

Holochain's hApp Development

  • Challenge - Holochain, a decentralized application platform, faced performance bottlenecks in handling complex data structures and computations within its applications.
  • Solution - Rust was chosen as the primary programming language for hApp development. The ownership system and memory safety features of Rust helped Holochain developers write high-performance code, ensuring the smooth execution of decentralized applications. This choice not only improved performance but also enhanced the overall reliability of the applications.

Parity Substrate's Blockchain Modules

  • Challenge - Parity Substrate, a framework for building custom blockchains, requires efficient and performant execution of blockchain logic within its modules.
  • Solution - Rust became the language of choice for developing blockchain runtime modules in Parity Substrate. The language's emphasis on low-level control and efficient memory management contributed to improved transaction throughput and reduced latency. The enhanced performance was crucial for applications running on Parity Substrate, including those with machine learning components integrated into the blockchain.

Enhanced Safety and Reliability

Rust's focus on memory safety and zero-cost abstractions not only improves performance but also enhances the safety and reliability of machine learning applications. The following case studies showcase instances where Rust's safety features played a pivotal role.

Cernan's Data Streaming

  • Challenge - Cernan, a telemetry and logging aggregation server, needed to handle large volumes of streaming data reliably and without compromising safety.
  • Solution - Rust's ownership system and strict compiler checks ensured memory safety, preventing common bugs such as null pointer dereferences and data races. By using Rust, the Cernan project achieved a higher level of reliability, reducing the likelihood of runtime errors in critical components handling streaming data for machine learning applications.

Tezedge's Blockchain Protocol

  • Challenge - Tezedge, a blockchain protocol for the Tezos network, faced the challenge of maintaining a secure and reliable protocol while handling complex consensus mechanisms.
  • Solution - Rust was adopted to implement critical components of the Tezedge protocol. The ownership model and exhaustive compiler checks in Rust helped developers identify and eliminate potential vulnerabilities early in the development process. As a result, Tezedge achieved a more robust and secure blockchain protocol, crucial for the reliable functioning of decentralized applications utilizing machine learning algorithms.

Challenges and Limitations

Till now we have explored the powerful features of Rust but it also has some limitations that are mentioned below.

Ecosystem Maturity

Rust, although a powerful language, faces challenges related to the maturity of its machine-learning ecosystem. Unlike more established languages like Python or C++, Rust's ecosystem for machine learning is still in its early stages. This can be a significant hurdle for developers looking to leverage existing tools, libraries, and frameworks that have been refined and tested over time.

  • Limited ML-specific Libraries  - One of the primary concerns is the limited availability of machine learning-specific libraries in Rust. Compared to languages like Python, which boasts a rich ecosystem with TensorFlow, PyTorch, and scikit-learn, Rust's ML library offerings are more limited. Developers may find themselves needing to implement custom solutions or work with less feature-rich libraries.
  • Integration Challenges - As machine learning often relies on the integration of diverse libraries and tools, the lack of mature and standardized interfaces can impede seamless interoperability. Integrating Rust with existing ML ecosystems might require additional effort and workarounds, hindering the development speed.
  • Community Support - The strength of a programming language often lies in its community support. While Rust has a growing and enthusiastic community, the specialized support for machine learning is not as robust as in other languages. This can result in slower responses to issues, limited resources for troubleshooting, and a less dynamic exchange of ideas and best practices.

Learning Curve for Developers

Rust, known for its emphasis on memory safety and ownership principles, introduces a steeper learning curve compared to more mainstream languages. The intricacies of Rust's ownership system, while providing significant benefits in terms of memory safety and performance, can be challenging for developers transitioning from languages with garbage collection or less strict memory models.

  • Ownership and Borrowing Concepts - The ownership and borrowing concepts in Rust, while powerful, can be initially confusing for developers unfamiliar with them. Ensuring memory safety through ownership and borrowing requires a paradigm shift in the developer's mindset, which can lead to frustration and longer development cycles.
  • Complexity in Concurrency Handling - Rust's approach to concurrency, though advantageous, adds complexity. Developers need to understand the nuances of Rust's concurrency model to write efficient and safe concurrent ML code. This can pose challenges for those accustomed to languages with simpler concurrency models.
  • Limited Learning Resources - The availability of high-quality learning resources specific to Rust for machine learning is currently limited. Developers might struggle to find comprehensive tutorials, documentation, and community-driven educational materials tailored to ML use cases.


Rust is a good choice for machine learning because it's safe, fast, and can handle multiple tasks at the same time. However, there are challenges like the fact that it's still growing, there aren't many ready-to-use tools, and it might be a bit tricky for beginners. Even with these challenges, people see a lot of potential in using Rust for machine learning.

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