Map Reduce: Simplified Data Processing on Large Clusters

A general Programming model and implementation for processing large data sets.


  1. Many real world tasks can be expressed in this model.
  2. Programs written in this functional style are automatically parallelized and executed on a large cluster of machines.
  3. Hence it id useful to provide an abstraction to application programers, such that they can just specify their map and reduce functions.
  4. The paper describes the implementation of a library (run-time system), that takes cares of:
  1. Allows programmers without experience with parallel and districuted computing to easily parallelize programs and utilize resources of a large dist. system.

Key ideas

  1. MapReduce raises the abstraction at which programmers can create distributed and parallel programs.i i.e. Simple interface
  2. Common issues in creating a distributed program i.e. partitioning, scheduling, communication and handling failures are abstracted away, the library can handle these concerns. i.e. Powerful interface.

Word counting Example

Let's look at a concrete example. Imagine you have a large no of text files in a directory, and you want to calculate the occurence of each word. A non-parallel implementatin might look like:

word_count = {}
for each file f in dir:
  for each word w in f:
    if w in word_count:
      word_count[w] += 1
      word_count[w] = 1

This is simple enough, but offers no scope for explicit parallelism. In a map reduce paradigm, we can define our map and reduce function for word counting program as:

map(string key, string value):
  // key: file name
  // value: file contents

  for each word w in file:
    EmitIntermediate(w, "1")
reduce(string key, iterator values):
  // key: a word
  // values: a list of counts

  int result = 0
  for each v in values:
    result += ParseInt(v)

Understanding the data transformations

Conceptually, the map and reduce functions asupplied by the user have associated types as:

map (k1, v1) --> list(k2, v2)

reduce (k2, list(v2)) --> list(v2)

The input keys and values are drawn from a different domain than the output keys and values. Furthermore, the intermediate keys and values are from the same domain as the output keys and values.


A Go code library can be found here:

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think by connecting on twitter @shubham_arora_0


  1. MapReduce paper
  2. BU CS651 starter code