Apache Pig raises the level of abstraction for processing large datasets. MapReduce allows you, as the programmer, to specify a map function followed by a reduce function, but working out how to fit your data processing into this pattern, which often requires multiple MapReduce stages, can be a challenge. With Pig, the data structures are much richer, typically being multivalued and nested, and the transformations you can apply to the data are much more powerful. They include joins, for example, which are not for the faint of heart in MapReduce.
Pig is made up of two pieces:
The language used to express data flows, called Pig Latin.
The execution environment to run Pig Latin programs. There are currently two environments: local execution in a single JVM and distributed execution on a Hadoop cluster.
A Pig Latin program is made up of a series of operations, or transformations, that are applied to the input data to produce output. Taken as a whole, the operations describe a data flow, which the Pig execution environment translates into an executable representation and then runs. Under the covers, Pig turns the transformations into a series of MapReduce jobs, but as a programmer you are mostly unaware of this, which allows you to focus on the data rather than the nature of the execution.
Pig is a scripting language for exploring large datasets. One criticism of MapReduce is that the development cycle is very long. Writing the mappers and reducers, compiling and packaging ...