By default, OpenNMT saves a checkpoint every 5000 iterations and at the end of each epoch. For more frequent or infrequent saves, you can use the -save_every and -save_every_epochs options which define the number of iterations and epochs after which the training saves a checkpoint.

There are several reasons one may want to train from a saved model with the -train_from option:

  • continuing a stopped training
  • continuing the training with a smaller batch size
  • training a model on new data (incremental adaptation)
  • starting a training from pre-trained parameters
  • etc.


When training from an existing model, some settings can not be changed:

  • the model topology (layers, hidden size, etc.)
  • the vocabularies


-dropout, -fix_word_vecs_enc and -fix_word_vecs_dec are model options that can be changed for a retraining.

Resuming a stopped training

It is common that a training stops: crash, server reboot, user action, etc. In this case, you may want to continue the training for more epochs by using using the -continue flag. For example:

# start the initial training
th train.lua -gpuid 1 -data data/demo-train.t7 -save_model demo -save_every 50

# train for several epochs...

# need to reboot the server!

# continue the training from the last checkpoint
th train.lua -gpuid 1 -data data/demo-train.t7 -save_model demo -save_every 50 -train_from demo_checkpoint.t7 -continue

The -continue flag ensures that the training continues with the same configuration and optimization states. In particular, the following options are set to their last known value:

  • -curriculum
  • -decay
  • -learning_rate_decay
  • -learning_rate
  • -max_grad_norm
  • -min_learning_rate
  • -optim
  • -start_decay_at
  • -start_decay_ppl_delta
  • -start_epoch
  • -start_iteration


The -end_epoch value is not automatically set as the user may want to continue its training for more epochs past the end.

Additionally, the -continue flag retrieves from the previous training:

  • the non-SGD optimizers states
  • the random generator states
  • the batch order (when continuing from an intermediate checkpoint)

Training from pre-trained parameters

Another use case it to use a base model and train it further with new training options (in particular the optimization method and the learning rate). Using -train_from without -continue will start a new training with parameters initialized from a pre-trained model.

Updating the vocabularies

  • -update_vocab <string> (accepted: none, replace, merge; default: none)

It is possible that we restart the training with a new dataset such as dynamic dataset, we could have different vocabularies in dynamic dataset and the pre-trained model. Instead of re-initializing the whole network, the pre-trained states of the common words in the new/previous dictionaries can be kept with option -update_vocab. This option is disabled by default. replace mode will only keep the common words. For non-common words, the old ones will be deleted and the new onse will be initialized. merge mode will keep the state of all the old words. The new words will be initialized.