Join keys

Earlier today, I released Dumbo 0.21.3, which adds support for so called “join keys” (amongst other things). Here’s an example of a Dumbo program that uses such keys:

def mapper(key, value):
    key.isprimary = "hostnames" in key.body[0]
    key.body, value = value.split("\t", 1)
    yield key, value
class Reducer:
    def __init__(self):
        self.key = None
    def __call__(self, key, values):
        if key.isprimary:
            self.key = key.body
            self.hostname =
        elif self.key == key.body:
            key.body = self.hostname
            for value in values:
                yield key, value
def runner(job):
    job.additer(mapper, Reducer)
def starter(prog):
    prog.addopt("addpath", "yes")
    prog.addopt("joinkeys", "yes")

if __name__ == "__main__":
    from dumbo import main
    main(runner, starter)

When you put this code in, you can join the files hostnames.txt and logs.txt as follows:

$ wget
$ wget
$ dumbo -input hostnames.txt -input logs.txt \
-output joined.code
$ dumbo cat joined.code > joined.txt

In order to make join keys work for non-local runs, however, you need to apply the patch from HADOOP-5528, which requires Hadoop 0.20 or higher. More precisely, Dumbo relies on the BinaryPartitioner from HADOOP-5528 to make sure that:

  1. All keys that differ only in the .isprimary attribute are passed to the same reducer.
  2. The primary keys are always reduced before the non-primary ones.

If you want to find out how this works exactly, you might want to watch Cloudera’s “MapReduce Algorithms” lecture, since joining by means of a custom partitioner is one of the common idioms discussed in this lecture.

UPDATE: Dumbo 0.21.3 is not compatible with the evolved version of the patch for HADOOP-5528. To make things work with the final patch, you need to upgrade to Dumbo 0.21.4.

5 Responses to Join keys

  1. Elias says:

    Klaas, on my screen I only see:
    “$ dumbo -input hostnames.txt -input logs.txt -output” (I need to copy & paste to see that output is followed by joined.code)

    • Klaas says:

      Guess the font is slightly bigger in your case or so. I broke the line in question up into two lines now, hope that helps. Thanks!

  2. […] HADOOP-5528 to Hadoop 0.18. Now that his backported patch has been deployed, we finally get to use join keys on our production clusters, allowing us to join more easily and avoid the memory-hungry alternative […]

  3. […] could be handy when you want to use join keys for only one iteration, for […]

  4. […] join keys Dumbo 0.21.12 further simplifies joining by hiding the join keys from the “end-programmer”. For instance, the example discussed here can now be written […]

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