When running experiments with deep neural nets you want to use appropriate hardware. Most of the time I work on a Thinkpad laptop with no GPU. This makes experimenting painfully slow. A convenient way is to use an AWS instance, for example the p2.xlarge.

I will assume you have an AWS account (or that you are able to get one, it’s easy). Then I can show you how to efficiently use AWS to do deep learning.

The setup

First you need to add your AWS credentials to



aws_access_key_id = YOUR_KEY
aws_secret_access_key = YOUR_SECRET

If you don’t have a .aws/ directory, just create it. Next you have to set your default region in your


by adding


Now the last think you have to do is installing

 $ pip install boto3


The script

Now we want to automate the creation of a AWS instance as far as possible. We want to use this pre-configured image (socalled AMI). Make sure you pick the right one for your region.

This is the script that we will use to spin up a AWS machine with the required ami.

import boto3
import datetime

instance_type = "p2.xlarge"
print("Starting spot instance of type {}".format(instance_type))
client = boto3.client('ec2')
response = client.request_spot_instances(
'ImageId': 'ami-d36386aa',
'KeyName': 'aws_test',
'SecurityGroups': ['dl'],
'InstanceType': instance_type,
'Placement': {
'AvailabilityZone': 'eu-west-1a',
'BlockDeviceMappings': [
'DeviceName': '/dev/xvda',
'Ebs': {
'SnapshotId': 'snap-0595b270bf9fd5579',
'VolumeSize': 50,
'DeleteOnTermination': True,
'VolumeType': 'gp2',
'Encrypted': False
'EbsOptimized': False,
'Monitoring': {
'Enabled': False
'SecurityGroupIds': ['sg-a2dd59db']
instances = ec2.instances.filter(
Filters=[{'Name': 'instance-state-name', 'Values': ['running']}])
for instance in instances:
print("Id: {}, type: {}, ip: {}".format(instance.id, instance.instance_type, instance.public_ip_address))

You need to apply some changes to make it work for you. You have to change the security groups, the snap-id and your keyName. Now you can simply run this script and you get GPU instance preconfigured for deep learning running and see the IP to connect to with ssh.

Next time we embed this python script in a bash script to automatically add packages to your instance.

Have fun!

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