Apache Beam Core Transforms

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Transform in Apache Beam are the operations in your pipeline, and provide a generic processing framework. You provide processing logic in the form of a function object (colloquially referred to as “user code”), and your user code is applied to each element of an input PCollection (or more than one PCollection).

Core Beam transforms

Beam provides the following core transforms, each of which represents a different processing paradigm:

  • ParDo
  • GroupByKey
  • CoGroupByKey
  • Combine
  • Flatten
  • Partition


ParDo is a Beam transform for generic parallel processing. A ParDo transform considers each element in the input PCollection, performs some processing function (your user code) on that element, and emits zero, one, or multiple elements to an output PCollection.

ParDo is useful for a variety of common data processing operations, including:

  • Filtering a data set. You can use ParDo to consider each element in a PCollection and either output that element to a new collection or discard it.
  • Formatting or type-converting each element in a data set. If your input PCollection contains elements that are of a different type or format than you want, you can use ParDo to perform a conversion on each element and output the result to a new PCollection.
  • Extracting parts of each element in a data set. If you have a PCollection of records with multiple fields, for example, you can use a ParDo to parse out just the fields you want to consider into a new PCollection.
  • Performing computations on each element in a data set. You can use ParDo to perform simple or complex computations on every element, or certain elements, of a PCollection and output the results as a new PCollection.

Applying ParDo

public static void main(String[] args) {
    Pipeline p = Pipeline.create(PipelineOptionsFactory.fromArgs(args).withValidation().create());
    p.apply(Create.of("Hello", "World")).apply(MapElements.via(new SimpleFunction<String, String>() {

        public String apply(String input) {
            return input.toUpperCase();
    })).apply(ParDo.of(new DoFn<String, Void>() {

        public void processElement(ProcessContext c) {


GroupByKey is a Beam transform for processing collections of key/value pairs. It’s a parallel reduction operation, analogous to the Shuffle phase of a Map/Shuffle/Reduce-style algorithm. The input to GroupByKey is a collection of key/value pairs that represents a multimap, where the collection contains multiple pairs that have the same key, but different values. Given such a collection, you use GroupByKey to collect all of the values associated with each unique key.

Let’s examine the mechanics of GroupByKey with a simple example case, where our data set consists of words from a text file and the line number on which they appear. We want to group together all the line numbers (values) that share the same word (key), letting us see all the places in the text where a particular word appears.

// The input PCollection.
 PCollection<KV<String, String>> mapped = ...;

// Apply GroupByKey to the PCollection mapped.
// Save the result as the PCollection reduced.
PCollection<KV<String, Iterable<String>>> reduced =
 mapped.apply(GroupByKey.<String, String>create());


CoGroupByKey performs a relational join of two or more key/value PCollections that have the same key type.

Consider using CoGroupByKey if you have multiple data sets that provide information about related things. For example, let’s say you have two different files with user data: one file has names and email addresses; the other file has names and phone numbers. You can join those two data sets, using the user name as a common key and the other data as the associated values. After the join, you have one data set that contains all of the information (email addresses and phone numbers) associated with each name.

In the Beam SDK for Java, CoGroupByKey accepts a tuple of keyed PCollections (PCollection<KV<K, V>>) as input. For type safety, the SDK requires you to pass each PCollection as part of a KeyedPCollectionTuple. You must declare a TupleTag for each input PCollection in the KeyedPCollectionTuple that you want to pass to CoGroupByKey. As output, CoGroupByKey returns a PCollection<KV<K, CoGbkResult>>, which groups values from all the input PCollections by their common keys. Each key (all of type K) will have a different CoGbkResult, which is a map from TupleTag<T> to Iterable<T>. You can access a specific collection in an CoGbkResult object by using the TupleTag that you supplied with the initial collection.

final List<KV<String, String>> emailsList =
        KV.of("amy", "amy@example.com"),
        KV.of("carl", "carl@example.com"),
        KV.of("julia", "julia@example.com"),
        KV.of("carl", "carl@email.com"));

final List<KV<String, String>> phonesList =
        KV.of("amy", "111-222-3333"),
        KV.of("james", "222-333-4444"),
        KV.of("amy", "333-444-5555"),
        KV.of("carl", "444-555-6666"));

PCollection<KV<String, String>> emails = p.apply("CreateEmails", Create.of(emailsList));
PCollection<KV<String, String>> phones = p.apply("CreatePhones", Create.of(phonesList));

After CoGroupByKey, the resulting data contains all data associated with each unique key from any of the input collections.

final TupleTag<String> emailsTag = new TupleTag<>();
final TupleTag<String> phonesTag = new TupleTag<>();

final List<KV<String, CoGbkResult>> expectedResults =
            CoGbkResult.of(emailsTag, Arrays.asList("amy@example.com"))
                .and(phonesTag, Arrays.asList("111-222-3333", "333-444-5555"))),
            CoGbkResult.of(emailsTag, Arrays.asList("carl@email.com", "carl@example.com"))
                .and(phonesTag, Arrays.asList("444-555-6666"))),
            CoGbkResult.of(emailsTag, Arrays.asList())
                .and(phonesTag, Arrays.asList("222-333-4444"))),
            CoGbkResult.of(emailsTag, Arrays.asList("julia@example.com"))
                .and(phonesTag, Arrays.asList())));

The following code example joins the two PCollections with CoGroupByKey, followed by a ParDo to consume the result. Then, the code uses tags to look up and format data from each collection.

PCollection<KV<String, CoGbkResult>> results =
    KeyedPCollectionTuple.of(emailsTag, emails)
        .and(phonesTag, phones)

PCollection<String> contactLines =
            new DoFn<KV<String, CoGbkResult>, String>() {
              public void processElement(ProcessContext c) {
                KV<String, CoGbkResult> e = c.element();
                String name = e.getKey();
                Iterable<String> emailsIter = e.getValue().getAll(emailsTag);
                Iterable<String> phonesIter = e.getValue().getAll(phonesTag);
                String formattedResult =
                    Snippets.formatCoGbkResults(name, emailsIter, phonesIter);


Combine is a Beam transform for combining collections of elements or values in your data. Combine has variants that work on entire PCollections, and some that combine the values for each key in PCollections of key/value pairs.

When you apply a Combine transform, you must provide the function that contains the logic for combining the elements or values. The combining function should be commutative and associative, as the function is not necessarily invoked exactly once on all values with a given key. The Beam SDK also provides some pre-built combine functions for common numeric combination operations such as sum, min, and max.

Simple combine operations, such as sums, can usually be implemented as a simple function. More complex combination operations might require you to create a subclass of CombineFn that has an accumulation type distinct from the input/output type.

The associativity and commutativity of a CombineFn allows runners to automatically apply some optimizations:

  • Combiner lifting: This is the most significant optimization. Input elements are combined per key and window before they are shuffled, so the volume of data shuffled might be reduced by many orders of magnitude. Another term for this optimization is “mapper-side combine.”
  • Incremental combining: When you have a CombineFn that reduces the data size by a lot, it is useful to combine elements as they emerge from a streaming shuffle. This spreads out the cost of doing combines over the time that your streaming computation might be idle. Incremental combining also reduces the storage of intermediate accumulators.
public class AverageFn extends CombineFn<Integer, AverageFn.Accum, Double> {
  public static class Accum {
    int sum = 0;
    int count = 0;

  public Accum createAccumulator() { return new Accum(); }

  public Accum addInput(Accum accum, Integer input) {
      accum.sum += input;
      return accum;

  public Accum mergeAccumulators(Iterable<Accum> accums) {
    Accum merged = createAccumulator();
    for (Accum accum : accums) {
      merged.sum += accum.sum;
      merged.count += accum.count;
    return merged;

  public Double extractOutput(Accum accum) {
    return ((double) accum.sum) / accum.count;

Combining a PCollection into a single value

Use the global combine to transform all of the elements in a given PCollection into a single value, represented in your pipeline as a new PCollection containing one element. The following example code shows how to apply the Beam provided sum combine function to produce a single sum value for a PCollection of integers.

// Sum.SumIntegerFn() combines the elements in the input PCollection. The resulting PCollection, called sum,
// contains one value: the sum of all the elements in the input PCollection.
PCollection<Integer> pc = ...;
PCollection<Integer> sum = pc.apply(
   Combine.globally(new Sum.SumIntegerFn()));


Flatten is a Beam transform for PCollection objects that store the same data type. Flatten merges multiple PCollection objects into a single logical PCollection.

The following example shows how to apply a Flatten transform to merge multiple PCollection objects.

// Flatten takes a PCollectionList of PCollection objects of a given type.
// Returns a single PCollection that contains all of the elements in the PCollection objects in that list.
PCollection<String> pc1 = ...;
PCollection<String> pc2 = ...;
PCollection<String> pc3 = ...;
PCollectionList<String> collections = PCollectionList.of(pc1).and(pc2).and(pc3);

PCollection<String> merged = collections.apply(Flatten.<String>pCollections());


Partition is a Beam transform for PCollection objects that store the same data type. Partition splits a single PCollection into a fixed number of smaller collections.

Partition divides the elements of a PCollection according to a partitioning function that you provide. The partitioning function contains the logic that determines how to split up the elements of the input PCollection into each resulting partition PCollection. The number of partitions must be determined at graph construction time. You can, for example, pass the number of partitions as a command-line option at runtime (which will then be used to build your pipeline graph), but you cannot determine the number of partitions in mid-pipeline (based on data calculated after your pipeline graph is constructed, for instance).

The following example divides a PCollection into percentile groups.

// Provide an int value with the desired number of result partitions, and a PartitionFn that represents the
// partitioning function. In this example, we define the PartitionFn in-line. Returns a PCollectionList
// containing each of the resulting partitions as individual PCollection objects.
PCollection<Student> students = ...;
// Split students up into 10 partitions, by percentile:
PCollectionList<Student> studentsByPercentile =
    students.apply(Partition.of(10, new PartitionFn<Student>() {
        public int partitionFor(Student student, int numPartitions) {
            return student.getPercentile()  // 0..99
                 * numPartitions / 100;

// You can extract each partition from the PCollectionList using the get method, as follows:
PCollection<Student> fortiethPercentile = studentsByPercentile.get(4);


In this blog, we have performed core transforms in Apache Beam with suitable example.

Reference Link:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_Beam .

Written by 

KRISHNA JAISWAL is Software Consultant Trainee at Knoldus. He is passionate about JAVA , MYSQL , having knowledge of C , C++ and much more. He is recognised as a good team player, a dedicated and responsible professional, and a technology enthusiast. He is a quick learner & curious to learn new technologies. His hobbies include reading Books , listening Music and playing Cricket .