Machine Learning to reduce API calls

I have a bot part of several (around 250) chat groups (think discord rooms). The bots connect everyday with an undocumented API to get for each room the new messages. Since the API is not fully documented I’m not sure it was designed to be used for robotic access. I thus decided to try to predict if a room will have new messages and reduce the number of calls. That was a fun opportunity to try to do ML.


First, I need to find some “features” that will be used to predict the output (there are new messages to get or not). I tried several versions and the actual features are

number of days since the last refresh

integer to indicate how many days have passed since the latest time we call the API to refresh messages.
For example, if we are the 7 JAN when we are doing a refresh and the latest was done 1 JAN this field value will be 7 – 1 = 6 days.

number of users in the chat group

integer which indicates the number of users in the group for which we call the API to refresh messages.

number of days since the latest message was posted in this group

integer to indicate the number of days has passed since the latest message was posted in the group (compared to the date of the refresh)
For example, if we last refresh for this chat room was done the 7 JAN and we old message in the chat group at this time was 1 JAN the value of this field will be 7 – 1 = 6 days.

number of messages in the latest 7 days

integer to indicate the number of messages in the chat room in the latest 7 days

I logged the values for each of these features when calling the API for few days as well as the result of the call: were there new messages in the group or not. I write the results in 2 files which will be used to train and test the MN.



One day we call the refresh API on a chat room to get new messages and did not get anything. At this time the number of days since the latest refresh was 1 (we checked the day before) and the number of users in the chat room was 8. We also know that the most recent message is 555 days old and there were 0 message in the latest week.


One day we call the refresh API on a chat room to get new messages and found some. At this time the number of days since the latest refresh was 1 (we checked the day before) and the number of users in the chat room was 10. We also know that the most recent message is 4 days old and there were 2 messages in the latest week.

This is still a work in progress and I’m getting feedback from other people I’m working with so I share the file and feature explanation on a dedicated google drive folder. You should rather check it to get more info and the latest feature used.


I decided to use Keras since it has good review. It works on top of various ML engines and allow fast experimentation “Keras is a high-level API capable of running on top of TensorFlow, CNTK, Theano, or MXNet (or as tf.contrib within TensorFlow). Since its initial release in March 2015, it has gained favor for its ease of use and syntactic simplicity, facilitating fast development. It’s supported by Google.”


I split the data in 2 files with the 80/20% proportion. The data are csv files formatted as explained in the previous section. Latest data and info are available on the following folder.

We load the data using numpy loadtxt function:

aTrainData = "mlDataTrain.csv" 
aTestData = "mlDataTest.csv" 

#Data have 4 fields
atrainDataX = np.loadtxt(aTrainData, delimiter=';',usecols=[1,2,3,4], dtype=int) 
atrainDataY = np.loadtxt(aTrainData, delimiter=';',usecols=[0], dtype=int)  

atestDataX = np.loadtxt(aTestData, delimiter=';', usecols=[1,2,3,4], dtype=int) 
atestDataY =np.loadtxt(aTestData, delimiter=';', usecols=[0], dtype=int) 


I decided to use a Neural network with 4 input (since we have 4 features) in the input layer connected to a single neuron as output layer.

It’s the most basic design I could imagine. I saw some article where people suggest to add a hidden layer but I was not sure how to decide. The “design” of the neural network was the first challenge I face. I will do a dedicated post on this point later.

There are several other parameters like the activation functions for each layer. I choose “relu” for the first layer and “sigmoid” for the output after some quick reading but I’m clearly not sure it’s the best choice. There are so many possibilities and no clear real explanations on which to choose.

aKerasNnModel = Sequential() 
aKerasNnModel.add(Dense(4, input_dim=4, activation='relu'))
aKerasNnModel.add(Dense(1, activation='sigmoid'))


One of the reason I choose Keras was the simplicity to get results “developed with a focus on enabling fast experimentation” ( Training is a simple call to the “fit” function, atrainDataY, epochs=100,verbose = 1) 

The model is train with the training data and I choose a random value of 100 epochs which seems to be a good value from what I read from other article (especially for the small amount of data I have).

When call the python code will output the results of each epoch

Epoch 1/100   5936/5936 [==============================] - 0s 46us/step - loss: 0.4604 - accuracy: 0.9252  
Epoch 100/100 
 5936/5936 [==============================] - 0s 31us/step - loss: 0.1513 - accuracy: 0.9559 
 1484/1484 [==============================] - 0s 26us/step 

At the end of the training the model has a 95% rate success in its prediction. The next step is to evaluate the model with unknown new cases from the testing set.


Once the model has been trained with the training data (as a reminder I split my data 80% train / 20% test) we can evaluate how good it predicts with the test data. This is done with the evaluate method of Keras:

aKerasNnModelScore = aKerasNnModel.evaluate(atestDataX, atestDataY) 
print("NN algorithm results: {0} for folowwing metrics : {1}".format(aKerasNnModelScore,aKerasNnModel.metrics_names))

Which will output

NN algorithm results: [0.14495629791642295, 0.9595687389373779] for folowwing metrics : ['loss', 'accuracy'] 

We achieve good results too on the testing set with 96% accuracy.


The neural network output a percentage as prediction:

root - INFO - Checking if group should be refresh by calling ML with: [4, 123, 560, 0] 
root - INFO - We found 0 new message and the ML probability were NN: [0.01339133]

root - INFO - Checking if group should be refresh by calling ML with: [4, 16, 0, 9]
root - INFO - We found 1 new message and the ML probability were NN: [0.75237719]

Since I want to be sure to never miss a possible message I decided to take a very low threshold at 2% which means we are probably calling some time and not find anything. I will review it after the ML results are compare to the reality for a few days. Nevertheless, if you never heard the term “confusion matrix” you may want to have a look at it now since we will use it later to review our threshold. There are some explanations about it here.


I saved the model with"model.h5") 

And then used it in my real-life application. I logged the prediction of the model but still called the API to get the new messages from the chat rooms so I can log a confusion matrix.

Here is the result for one day

aKerasConfusionMatrix: Counter({'TN': 238, 'FP': 18, 'TP': 17}) 

As explain previously I choose a very low threshold to ensure to avoid any false negative even if it means having few false positive because I do not want to miss any messages. At the end we reduce our number of calls to the API from 273 to only 35 and did not lost any messages. The threshold seems good enough for now.


I’m glad I had a project where I could have some fun discovering ML with a real-life application. As a non-expert and first-time user of Neural network I find it quite complicated and easy at the same time. It s easy since I manage to get good results very quickly without too much efforts but… It’s hard because there are lot of unknow variables like the network shape or the different function (activation, loss, optimizer). For most of these parameters I did not find any good documentation on which one to choose (and the articles sometimes contradicts each other).

This article is just a short sum up of my work on this project since I did not discuss of the other machine learning algorithms I tried (and compare to NN): Decision tree and Random Forest. I also did not discuss an issue I had when training the network and get stuck with a model which always answer the same prediction. I plan to do a follow up to develop these issues later.