Thesis Open Access

PiCo: A Domain-Specific Language for Data Analytics Pipelines

Misale, Claudia

Thesis supervisor(s)

Aldinucci, Marco; Tremblay, Guy

In the world of Big Data analytics, there is a series of tools aiming at simplifying programming applications to be executed on clusters. Although each tool claims to provide better programming, data and execution models—for which only informal (and often confusing) semantics is generally provided—all share a common under- lying model, namely, the Dataflow model. Using this model as a starting point, it is possible to categorize and analyze almost all aspects about Big Data analytics tools from a high level perspective. This analysis can be considered as a first step toward a formal model to be exploited in the design of a (new) framework for Big Data analytics. By putting clear separations between all levels of abstraction (i.e., from the runtime to the user API), it is easier for a programmer or software designer to avoid mixing low level with high level aspects, as we are often used to see in state-of-the-art Big Data analytics frameworks.

From the user-level perspective, we think that a clearer and simple semantics is preferable, together with a strong separation of concerns. For this reason, we use the Dataflow model as a starting point to build a programming environment with a simplified programming model implemented as a Domain-Specific Language, that is on top of a stack of layers that build a prototypical framework for Big Data analytics.

The contribution of this thesis is twofold: first, we show that the proposed model is (at least) as general as existing batch and streaming frameworks (e.g., Spark, Flink, Storm, Google Dataflow), thus making it easier to understand high-level data-processing applications written in such frameworks. As result of this analysis, we provide a layered model that can represent tools and applications following the Dataflow paradigm and we show how the analyzed tools fit in each level.

Second, we propose a programming environment based on such layered model in the form of a Domain-Specific Language (DSL) for processing data collections, called PiCo (Pipeline Composition). The main entity of this programming model is the Pipeline, basically a DAG-composition of processing elements. This model is intended to give the user an unique interface for both stream and batch processing, hiding completely data management and focusing only on operations, which are represented by Pipeline stages. Our DSL will be built on top of the FastFlow library, exploiting both shared and distributed parallelism, and implemented in C++11/14 with the aim of porting C++ into the Big Data world. 

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