MapReduce is a software paradigm popularised by Google in which we take a set of tuples (key-value pairs), transform (map) them into an intermediate set of key-value pairs, and then perform some aggregation (reduce) operation on the intermediate values to obtain a result set. This is a useful way to express a problem because it yields an obvious way to “divide and conquer” the computation in a way that lends itself to parallel/distributed computing, thus providing a fairly simple way to perform computations on extremely large data sets.
It can be quite difficult to grok at first, so I decided to try implementing one of the examples from the MongoDB documentation in F# (if interested, see shell example 2). In this example, we have a list of people and the types of pet each of them has. We wish to calculate the total number of each animal.
Again, F# proves to be a remarkably succinct language to express problems, in this case the built in syntactic sugar for tuples is a godsend!
UPDATE (25-May-2010) – Controlflow helpfully suggested that I could make my original code somewhat neater by using pattern matching to decompose tuples. I’ve updated the code below with these improvements.
#light // Simple example of map-reduce in F# // Counts the total numbers of each animal // Map function for our problem domain let mapfunc (k,v) = v |> Seq.map (fun(pet) -> (pet, 1)) // Reduce function for our problem domain let reducefunc (k,(vs:seq<int>)) = let count = vs |> Seq.sum k, Seq.ofList([count]) // Performs map-reduce operation on a given set of input tuples let mapreduce map reduce (inputs:seq<_*_>) = let intermediates = inputs |> Seq.map map |> Seq.concat let groupings = intermediates |> Seq.groupBy fst |> Seq.map (fun(x,y) -> x, Seq.map snd y) let results = groupings |> Seq.map reduce results // Run the example... let alice = ("Alice",["Dog";"Cat"]) let bob = ("Bob",["Cat"]) let charlie = ("Charlie",["Mouse"; "Cat"; "Dog"]) let dennis = ("Dennis",) let people = [alice;bob;charlie;dennis] let results = people |> mapreduce mapfunc reducefunc for result in results do let animal = fst result let count = ((snd result) |> Seq.toArray). printfn "%s : %s" animal (count.ToString()) printfn "Press any key to exit." System.Console.ReadKey() |> ignore
This yields the expected results:
Dog : 2
Cat : 3
Mouse : 1
Exercise for the reader
Parallelise this implementation (for a single machine this should be trivial by using the Parallel LINQ integration provided in the F# Powerpack).