Scala 2.13 Changes

Anmol Sarna takes us through what’s new in Scala 2.13:

Last, but not the least, the team has invested heavily in compiler speedups during the 2.13 cycle which resulted in some major changes with respect to the compiler.

Compiler performance in 2.13 is 5-10% better compared to 2.12, thanks mainly to the new collections.

There are a lot of changes in this version. I wonder how long before Spark supports it fully.

Thoughts on Hadoop’s Future

Mark Litwintschik ties together a set of thoughts on the present and future of Hadoop:

At no point in Hadoop’s history has there been such a rich variety of features being offered as today and never before has it been so stable and battle-tested.

Hadoop projects are made up of millions of lines of code which have been written by thousands of contributors. In any given week there are 100s of developers working on the various projects. Most commercial database offerings are lucky to have a handful of engineers making any significant improvements to their code bases every week.

Mark takes a broad ecosystem approach (which I fully endorse) and so he sees the glass as more than half-full.

SQL Server 2019 CTP 3.1 Released

Anshul Rampal announces CTP 3.1 of SQL Server 2019:

The big data clusters feature continues to add key capabilities for its initial release in SQL Server 2019. This month, the release extends the Apache Spark™ functionality for the feature by supporting the ability to read and write to data pool external tables directly as well as a mechanism to scale compute separately from storage for compute-intensive workloads. Both enhancements should make it easier to integrate Apache Spark™ workloads into your SQL Server environment and leverage each of their strengths. Beyond Apache Spark™, this month’s release also includes machine learning extensions with MLeap where you can train a model in Apache Spark™ and then deploy it for use in SQL Server through the recently released Java extensibility functionality in SQL Server CTP 3.0. This should make it easier for data scientists to write models in Apache Spark™ and then deploy them into production SQL Server environments for both periodic training and full production against the trained model in a single environment.

Click through to learn more about what has changed.

Controlling Partition and File Counts in Spark

Landon Robinson shows how we can control the number of partitions (and therefore the number of output files) on reduce-style jobs in Spark:

Whatever the case may be, the desire to control the number of files for a job or query is reasonable – within, ahem, reason – and in general is not too complicated. And, it’s often a very beneficial idea.

However, a thorough understanding of distributed computing paradigms like Map-Reduce (a paradigm Apache Spark follows and builds upon) can help understand how files are created by parallelized processes. More importantly, one can learn the benefits and consequences of manipulating that behavior, and how to do so properly – or at least without degrading performance.

There’s good advice in here, so check it out.

Creating an Azure Databricks Cluster

Brad Llewellyn shows how you can create an Azure Databricks cluster:

There are three major concepts for us to understand about Azure Databricks, Clusters, Code and Data.  We will dig into each of these in due time.  For this post, we’re going to talk about Clusters.  Clusters are where the work is done.  Clusters themselves do not store any code or data.  Instead, they operate the physical resources that are used to perform the computations.  So, it’s possible (and even advised) to develop code against small development clusters, then leverage the same code against larger production-grade clusters for deployment.  Let’s start by creating a small cluster.

Read on for an example.

Databricks Runtime 5.4

Todd Greenstein announces Databricks Runtime 5.4:

We’ve partnered with the Data Services team at Amazon to bring the Glue Catalog to Databricks.   Databricks Runtime can now use Glue as a drop-in replacement for the Hive metastore. This provides several immediate benefits:
– Simplifies manageability by using the same glue catalog across multiple Databricks workspaces.
– Simplifies integrated security by using IAM Role Passthrough for metadata in Glue.
– Provides easier access to metadata across the Amazon stack and access to data catalogued in Glue.

There are some interesting changes in here.

Running Confluent Platform with .NET

Niels Berglund shows how you can install Confluent Platform as a Docker container and use the .NET client against it:

What we see in Figure 16 are the various project related files, including the source file Program.cs. What is missing now is a Kafka client. For .NET there exists a couple of clients, and theoretically, you can use any one of them. However, in practice, there is only one, and that is the Confluent Kafka DotNet client. The reason I say this is because it has the best parity with the original Java client. The client has NuGet packages, and you install it via VS Code’s integrated terminal: dotnet add package Confluent.Kafka --version 1.0.1.1:

Definitely use the Confluent client. The others were from a time when there was no official driver; most aren’t even maintained anymore.

When Not to Use Spark

Ramandeep Kaur gives us several cases when it makes sense not to use Apache Spark:

There can be use cases where Spark would be the inevitable choice. Spark considered being an excellent tool for use cases like ETL of a large amount of a dataset, analyzing a large set of data files, Machine learning, and data science to a large dataset, connecting BI/Visualization tools, etc.
But its no panacea, right?

Let’s consider the cases where using Spark would be no less than a nightmare.

No tool is perfect at everything. Click through for a few use cases where the Spark experience degrades quickly.

Hyperparameter Tuning with MLflow

Joseph Bradley shows how you can perform hyperparameter tuning of an MLlib model with MLflow:

Apache Spark MLlib users often tune hyperparameters using MLlib’s built-in tools CrossValidator and TrainValidationSplit.  These use grid search to try out a user-specified set of hyperparameter values; see the Spark docs on tuning for more info.

Databricks Runtime 5.3 and 5.3 ML and above support automatic MLflow tracking for MLlib tuning in Python.

With this feature, PySpark CrossValidator and TrainValidationSplit will automatically log to MLflow, organizing runs in a hierarchy and logging hyperparameters and the evaluation metric.  For example, calling CrossValidator.fit() will log one parent run.  Under this run, CrossValidator will log one child run for each hyperparameter setting, and each of those child runs will include the hyperparameter setting and the evaluation metric.  Comparing these runs in the MLflow UI helps with visualizing the effect of tuning each hyperparameter.

Hyperparameter tuning is critical for some of the more complex algorithms like random forests, gradient boosting, and neural networks.

TensorFrames: Spark Plus TensorFlow

Adi Polak gives us an introduction to TensorFrames:

In all TensorFrames functionality, the DataFrame is sent together with the computations graph. The DataFrame represents the distributed data, meaning in every machine there is a chunk of the data that will go through the graph operations/ transformations. This will happen in every machine with the relevant data. Tungsten binary format is the actual binary in-memory data that goes through the transformation, first to Apache Spark Java object and from there it is sent to TensorFlow Jave API for graph calculations. This all happens in the Spark Worker process, the Spark worker process can spin many tasks which mean various calculation at the same time over the in-memory data.

An interesting bit of turnabout here is that the Scala API is the underdeveloped one; normally for Spark, the Python API is the Johnny-Come-Lately version.

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