An Introduction to Higher Order Functions in Spark SQL

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Nested data types offer Apache Spark users powerful ways to manipulate structured data. In particular, they allow you to put complex objects like arrays, maps and structures inside of columns. This can help you model your data in a more natural way.

While this feature is certainly useful, it can quite bit cumbersome to manipulate data inside of complex objects because SQL (and Spark) do not have primitives for working with such data. In addition, it is time-consuming, non-performant, and non-trivial. During this talk we will discuss some of the commonly used techniques for working with complex objects, and we will introduce new ones based on Higher-order functions. Higher-order functions will be part of Spark 2.4 and are a simple and performant extension to SQL that allow a user to manipulate complex data such as arrays.

Session hashtag: #SAISDev7

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About Herman van Hovell

Herman is a Spark PMC member and a Software engineer at Databricks. He has worked extensively on Spark SQL. At Databricks Herman works in the Amsterdam office, and works on improving the performance of the Databricks Runtime.