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Spark Interview Questions and Answers

By Umesh Singh
Last update: 09 Jun 2020, 30 Questions

Below, we have created a list of the most frequently asked Spark Interview Questions and Answers. Reading these can help you gain more knowledge and insights into this computing system. If you are looking for a job change or starting your career in Spark, this list of Spark Interview Questions can help you gain more confidence and eventually a job of your choice, in this field.

Apache Spark is a high-functioning, fast, and general-purpose cluster computing system. It provides high-functioning APIs in various programming languages such as Java, Python, Scala, and its prime purpose is to provide an optimized engine capable of supporting general execution graphs.

Apache Spark
What is Apache Spark? It is an open-source general-purpose cluster-computing framework. It gives over 80 high-level operators that make it handy to construct parallel apps and you can use it interactively from the Python, Scala, and SQL shells.
Latest Version 2.4.4 released on 1st September 2019
Created By Matei Zaharia
Written in Python, Scala, Java, SQL
Official Website https://spark.apache.org
Operating System Linux, Windows, macOS
License Apache License 2.0

Most Frequently Asked Spark Interview Questions

1. What are the features of Spark?

Spark has the following important features which help developers in many ways:

  • Speed − It helps in the efficient workflow of a mobile application on the Hadoop cluster, having 100X memory speed and 10X Speed when running on a disk. By reducing the number of read/write operations on a disk and storing the intermediate processing data in memory, it saves valuable time.
  • Support multiple languages − Spark comes with in-built APIs written in Java, Scala, or Python. Having more than 80 high-level operators for interactive-querying, Spark helps developers easily code in multiple languages.
  • Advanced Analytics − Spark supports SQL queries, data streaming, Machine Learning, and Graphics algorithms along with total support for “Map” and “Reduce” functionalities.
2. What is Apache spark and what is it used for?

Apache Spark is an open-source general-purpose distributed data processing engine used to process and analyze large amounts of data efficiently. It has a wide array of uses in ETL and SQL batch jobs, processing of data from sensors, IoT Data Management, Financial Systems and Machine Learning Tasks.

3. What is tungsten engine in Spark?

Tungsten is a codename for the project in Apache Spark whose main function is to make changes in the execution engine. Tungsten engine in Spark is used to exponentially increase the efficiency of memory and CPU for its native applications by pushing standard performance limits further as per hardware compatibility.

4. What is a parquet file in Spark?

Parquet is a column-based file format which is used to optimize the speed of queries and is very efficient than a CSV or JSON file format. Spark SQL supports both read and write functions on parquet files which capture schema of original data automatically

5. Why spark is faster than Hive?

Spark is faster than Hive because it does the processing of data in the main memory of worker nodes thus preventing unnecessary I/O operations within disks.

6. What is PageRank algorithm in Spark?

The PageRank Algorithm in Spark delivers an output probability distribution which is used to represent the chances of a person randomly clicking on links arriving on a particular page.

7. What is the use of spark streaming?

Spark Streaming is an extension of the core Spark API.Its main use is to allow data engineers and data scientists to process real-time data from multiple sources like Kafka, Amazon Kinesis and Flume. This processed data can be exported to file systems, databases and dashboards for further analysis.

8. What is difference between Hadoop and Spark?
Spark Hadoop
It's a Data Analytics Engine It is a Big Data Process Engine
Used to Process real-time data, using real-time events like Twitter and Facebook Batch processing with a huge volume of data
Has a Low latency computing Has a High latency computing
Can process data extracted interactively Process the data extracted in batch mode
It is easier to use, enables a user to process data using high-level operators through abstractions Hadoop's model is a bit complex, need to handle low-level APIs
Has an in-memory computation, thus, no external scheduler is required The external job scheduler is required for memory computation
It is a bit less secure as compare to Hadoop Highly secure
Costlier than Hadoop Less Costly
9. What are the actions in Spark?

In Spark, Actions are RDD’s operation whose value returns back to the spark driver programs which then kick off a job to be executed in a cluster. Reduce, Collect, Take, saves Textfile are common examples of actions in Apache Spark.

10. What is catalyst Optimizer in Spark?

The optimizer used by Spark SQL is the Catalyst optimizer. Its main job is to optimize queries that are written in Spark SQL and DataFrame DSL. The Catalyst Optimizer runs queries much faster than its counterpart, RDD.

11. What happens if RDD partition is lost due to worker node failure?

In Spark, if any partition of an RDD is lost due to the failure of a worker node, that partition can be re-computed using the lineage of operations from the original fault-tolerant dataset.

12. What is spark GraphX used for?

Here are the uses of GraphX in Spark:

  • It can be used for unifying ETL, exploratory analysis, and computation of iterative graphs within a single system.
  • It can be used to present data in the form of graphs and collections while transforming and joining charts with RDD.
  • It can be used for writing custom iterative graph algorithms with the help of Pregel API.
13. What is the difference between RDD and DataFrame?
RDD Dataframe
It is the representation of a set of records and an immutable collection of objects within distributed computing. It is used for storing data and is basically the equivalent to a table in a relational database with more precious optimization.
This is an array of reference for partitioned objects by representing a large set of data. It is a distributed collection of data in the form of named rows and columns
Here all the datasets are logically partitioned across servers to be computed across different nodes in a cluster. It has a matrix-like structure with different types of columns, such as numeric, logical, and so on.
This supports compile-time type safety, having been based on Object-Oriented Programming. If there is a non-existent column that the user tries to access, there is an attribute error but no scope for compile-time type safety.
Almost all data sources are supported by RDD Dataframes require data sources to be in the JSON, CSV, or AVRO format, whereas storage systems having HIVE, HDFS, or MySQL tables.
14. What is coalesce in Spark?

In Spark, Coalesce is just another method for partitioning the data into a data frame. This is primarily used for reducing the number of partitions inside a data frame. It is most commonly used in cases where the user wants to decrease the amount of partitions without any confusion of shuffle.

15. What are the benefits of Spark over MapReduce?

Here are some of the advantages of using Spark rather than Hadoop’s MapReduce:

  • Spark is relatively easier to program and requires a lot less of actual coding than MapReduce
  • Spark has an in-built interactive mode, whereas MapReduce is, by default, has only batch processing and does not have an in-built interactive mode.
  • Spark uses a data abstraction, RDD, to make the features more productive, whereas MapReduce does not have any concept
  • Spark executes batch processing jobs almost 10X to 100X times faster than MapReduce.
  • Spark is considered as a general-purpose cluster computing engine due to its various methods for data processing such as steaming, batch processing, and machine learning, whereas MapReduce only has a Batch Engine.
  • Spark consumes lower latency via partial or complete caching of results across various nodes whereas, MapReduce is disk-based and consumes a far higher latency.
16. What is the difference between coalesce and repartition in Spark?
Coalesce Repartition
It is used for definitely decreasing the number of partitions used in a Dataframe. This method can decrease or increase the number of partitions used in a Dataframe.
It uses the existing partitions to minimize the amount of data being shuffled in a Dataframe. It just creates new partitions and while doing a full shuffle.
The partitions through this method are of variable sizes. The partitions in this method are roughly the same sizes.
17. Why spark uses lazy evaluation?

Spark uses Lazy Evaluation because of the following reasons:

  • It increases the manageability of the program by dividing it into smaller operations, thereby reducing the number of passes on the data by grouping operations.
  • It increases the speed and saves computational and calculational overhead by computing only necessary values.
  • It reduces complexities in any program by allowing users to work with an infinite data structure while drastically reducing time and space overheads.
  • It optimizes the program by reducing the number of queries being run.
18. What is the difference between cache and persist in Spark?
Cache () Persist ()
While using this, the default storage level is MEMORY_ONLY for RDD and MEMORY_AND_DISK for Dataset. While using this, the user can use various storage levels for both RDD and Dataset.
19. How RDD can be created in Spark?

RDDs or Resilient Distributed Datasets are the fundamental data structure present in Spark. They are immutable and fault-tolerant in nature. There are multiple ways to create RDDs in Spark. They are:

  • Creating RDD from a Seq or List using Parallelize

           RDDs can be created by taking an existing collection from a driver’s program and passing it to the Spark’s SparkContext’s parallelize () method. Here’s an example:
      val rdd=spark.sparkContext.parallelize(Seq(("Java", 10000),
      ("Python", 200000), ("Scala", 4000)))
      rdd.foreach(println)

       Output
      (Python,100000)
      (Scala,3000)
      (Java,20000)

  • Creating an RDD using a text file

     Mostly, in production systems, users can generate RDDs from files by simply reading the data from the files. Let us see how:
     Val rdd = spark.sparkContext.textFile("/path/textFile.txt")
     The above line of code creates an RDD in which each record represents a line of code.

  • Creating RDDs from Dataframes and DataSets

     You can easily convert any DataFrame or DataSet into an RDD. It can be done by using the rdd() method. Here’s how:
     val myRdd2 = spark.range(20).toDF().rdd
     In the above line of code, toDF() creates a DataFrame, and by calling an RDD, the range of code returns with a newly created RDD.

20. How many types of RDD are there in Spark?

There are two types of RDD Operations in Spark. They are:

  • Transformation: It is a type of function in which a new RDD is created from an existing RDD.
  • Action: This is a type of function which is used when the user wants to work with an actual DataSet.