Chapter 7. Stateful Operators and Applications

Stateful operators and user functions are common building blocks of stream processing applications. In fact, most nontrivial operations need to memorize records or partial results because data is streamed and arrives over time.1 Many of Flink’s built-in DataStream operators, sources, and sinks are stateful and buffer records or maintain partial results or metadata. For instance, a window operator collects input records for a ProcessWindowFunction or the result of applying a ReduceFunction, a ProcessFunction memorizes scheduled timers, and some sink functions maintain state about transactions to provide exactly-once functionality. In addition to built-in operators and provided sources and sinks, Flink’s DataStream API exposes interfaces to register, maintain, and access state in user-defined functions.

Stateful stream processing has implications on many aspects of a stream processor such as failure recovery and memory management as well as the maintenance of streaming applications. Chapters 2 and 3 discussed the foundations of stateful stream processing and related details of Flink’s architecture, respectively. Chapter 9 explains how to set up and configure Flink to reliably process stateful applications. Chapter 10 gives guidance on how to operate stateful applications—taking and restoring from application savepoints, rescaling applications, and performing application upgrades.

This chapter focuses on the implementation of stateful ...

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