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High Performance Spark by Rachel Warren, Holden Karau

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Chapter 9. Spark MLlib and ML

Spark has two machine learning libraries—Spark MLlib and Spark ML—with very different APIs, but similar algorithms. These machine learning libraries inherit many of the performance considerations of the RDD and Dataset APIs they are based on, but also have their own considerations. MLlib is the first of the two libraries and is entering a maintenance/bug-fix only mode. Normally we would skip discussing Spark MLlib and focus on the new API; however, for existing algorithms not all of the functionality has been ported over to the new Spark ML API. Spark ML is the newer, scikit-learn inspired, machine learning library and is where new active development is taking place.

Choosing Between Spark MLlib and Spark ML

At first glance, the most obvious difference between MLlib and ML is the data types they work on, with MLlib supporting RDDs and ML supporting DataFrames and Datasets. The data format difference isn’t all that important since they both deal with RDDs and Datasets of vectors, which are easily represented and converted between the RDD and Dataset formats.

From a design philosophy point of view, Spark’s MLlib is focused on providing a core set of algorithms for people to use, while largely leaving the data pipeline, cleaning, preparation, and feature selection problems up to the user. Spark ML instead focuses on exposing a scikit-learn inspired pipeline API for everything from data preparation to model training.

Currently, if you need to do streaming ...

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