Deploying Google’s Table Q&A Model (TAPAS) to a REST API

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In natural language research, Table Question Answering (Table QA) refers to models that can use tabular data to answer a user’s question.

For example, consider the following table:

Styled Table
Repository Stars Contributors Programming Language
Transformers 36542 651 Python
Datasets 4512 77 Rust
Tokenizers 3934 34 NodeJS

A user may want to ask questions of this data using only their natural language, as opposed to writing queries with code (SQL, Python) or selecting from a limited set of answers provided by an application.

Here are some questions we could ask based on this tabular data. Notice that the questions are increasingly complex and may include the need for aggregation:

  • How many stars does the Transformers repository have?
  • What is the sum of stars for the Datasets and Tokenizers repositories?
  • Which programming languages are associated with repositories that have less than 5000 stars?

TAPAS (an acronym for TAble PArSing) is a BERT-based model from Google that can answer questions like these, and more, with impressive accuracy (see the benchmarks and research paper here).

In this blog post, we will show you how to deploy the TAPAS model into production with Modelbit. Once deployed, you can easily hand the appropriate REST API call to your engineers in order to incorporate the TAPAS model’s inferences into your web application or other production environment.

Local setup in the notebook

Let us begin by looking at how to use TAPAS locally for making inferences. Open up any Python notebook and run the following code. Alternatively, you may use this project in Deepnote.

While the official TAPAS repository contains helpful demo notebooks, not all relevant setup instructions are documented. Instead, we can use the transformers model contributed by nielsr.


!pip install --upgrade modelbit
!pip install transformers==4.34.0


import modelbit
from transformers import TapasTokenizer, TapasConfig, TapasForQuestionAnswering 
import pandas as pd 
from typing import Union

Load the model

TAPAS has been fine tuned on different datasets and offers several pre-trained models. Here, we are selecting the "tapas-large-finetuned-wikisql-supervised" model which responds well to queries involving aggregation.

model_name = "google/tapas-large-finetuned-wikisql-supervised"
config = TapasConfig(model_name)
model = TapasForQuestionAnswering.from_pretrained(model_name)
tokenizer = TapasTokenizer.from_pretrained(model_name)

Return an inference locally

We can use the code below (modified from code on the HuggingFace site) to return an inference locally within our notebook. The function below expects two inputs:

  1. Data in the form of a dictionary
  2. A string or list representing one or multiple questions

def return_inference(data: dict, queries: Union[str, list]) -> dict:
    table = pd.DataFrame.from_dict(data)
    queries = [queries] if isinstance(queries, str) else queries
    inputs = tokenizer(
        table=table, queries=queries, padding="max_length", return_tensors="pt"
    outputs = model(**inputs)
    ) = tokenizer.convert_logits_to_predictions(
        inputs, outputs.logits.detach(), outputs.logits_aggregation.detach()

    # let's print out the results:
    id2aggregation = {0: "NONE", 1: "SUM", 2: "AVERAGE", 3: "COUNT"}
    aggregation_predictions_string = [
        id2aggregation[x] for x in predicted_aggregation_indices

    answers = []
    for coordinates in predicted_answer_coordinates:
        if len(coordinates) == 1:
            # only a single cell:
            # multiple cells
            cell_values = []
            for coordinate in coordinates:
            answers.append(", ".join(cell_values))

    results = {}
    for query, answer, predicted_agg in zip(
        queries, answers, aggregation_predictions_string
        combined_answer = (
            f"{predicted_agg} of {answer}" if predicted_agg != "NONE" else answer
        results[query] = combined_answer

    return results

Define the dataset and questions

Let us use the example dataset and questions referenced at the beginning of the tutorial. In practice, you would likely be pulling data from your warehouse for development purposes.

data = {
    "Repository": ["Transformers", "Datasets", "Tokenizers"],
    "Stars": ["36542", "4512", "3934"],
    "Contributors": ["651", "77", "34"],
    "Programming language": ["Python", "Rust", "NodeJS"],

queries = [
    "How many stars does the transformers repository have?",
    "what is the sum of stars for the Datasets and Tokenizers repositories?",
    ("Which programming languages are associated with " +
		"repositories that have less than 5000 stars?"),

Call the "return_inference" function locally

return_inference(data, queries)

As you can see below, the output of the function lists all queries and their respective answers as provided by the TAPAS model.

    "How many stars does the transformers repository have?":
        "COUNT of 36542",
    "what is the sum of stars for the Datasets and Tokenizers repositories?":
        "SUM of 4512, 3934",
    "Which programming languages are associated with repositories that have less than 5000 stars?":
        "Rust, NodeJS",

Deploy to production with Modelbit

Deploying to Modelbit is straightforward and requires two steps:

  1. Connect the notebook to Modelbit
  2. Deploy the "return_inference" function to Modelbit

Connect the notebook to Modelbit

Simply run the code below to log in and connect the notebook to Modelbit.

import modelbit
mb = modelbit.login()

You will be prompted with a URL that directs you to Modelbit to establish the connection to the notebook.

Connecting to Modelbit in your data science notebook.

Deploy the "return_inference" function to Modelbit

The last step is to deploy our "return_inference" function to Modelbit. This is where the actual deployment happens. Modelbit will package up all your source code and dependencies and make the model available via a REST API.


After a successful deployment from the notebook, you can view the deployment details by clicking “View in Modelbit” or by visiting your Modelbit dashboard.

Deploying a TAPAS model to Modelbit in a data science notebook.

Once inside our Modelbit dashboard, we can see that Modelbit has created a containerized production environment that maintains all of our package dependencies.

ML model's environment and dependencies captured in Modelbit.

Environment and dependencies created in Modelbit

The source code for the "return_inference" function is also available here.

ML mode's source code displayed in Modelbit.

Call the model in production

Modelbit gives us a REST API to the model (as well as SQL APIs). We can simply open up a terminal and paste in the provided "curl" command to return results from the productionized model.

RESPI API generated by Modelbit for the deployed ML model.

For example, here are the same inferences as before, but returned by directly calling the model in production. As you can see, we have the same results as the locally developed example above.

import requests

url = ""

modelbit_data = {"data": [data, queries]}
r =, json=modelbit_data)

    "data": {
        "How many stars does the transformers repository have?": 
        	"COUNT of 36542",
        "what is the sum of stars for the Datasets and Tokenizers repositories?":
        	"SUM of 4512, 3934",
        "Which programming languages are associated with repositories that have less than 5000 stars?":
        	"Rust, NodeJS",

Next Steps

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