apache-spark Shared Variables

Broadcast variables

Broadcast variables are read only shared objects which can be created with SparkContext.broadcast method:

val broadcastVariable = sc.broadcast(Array(1, 2, 3))

and read using value method:

val someRDD = sc.parallelize(Array(1, 2, 3, 4))

    i => broadcastVariable.value.apply(i % broadcastVariable.value.size)


Accumulators are write-only variables which can be created with SparkContext.accumulator:

val accumulator = sc.accumulator(0, name = "My accumulator") // name is optional

modified with +=:

val someRDD = sc.parallelize(Array(1, 2, 3, 4))
someRDD.foreach(element => accumulator += element)

and accessed with value method:

accumulator.value // 'value' is now equal to 10

Using accumulators is complicated by Spark's run-at-least-once guarantee for transformations. If a transformation needs to be recomputed for any reason, the accumulator updates during that transformation will be repeated. This means that accumulator values may be very different than they would be if tasks had run only once.


  1. Executors cannot read accumulator's value. Only the driver program can read the accumulator’s value, using its value method.
  2. It is almost similar to counter in Java/MapReduce. So you can relate accumulators to counters to understanding it easily

User Defined Accumulator in Scala

Define AccumulatorParam

import org.apache.spark.AccumulatorParam

object StringAccumulator extends AccumulatorParam[String] {
  def zero(s: String): String = s
  def addInPlace(s1: String, s2: String)=  s1 + s2


val accumulator = sc.accumulator("")(StringAccumulator)
sc.parallelize(Array("a", "b", "c")).foreach(accumulator += _)

User Defined Accumulator in Python

Define AccumulatorParam:

from pyspark import AccumulatorParam

class StringAccumulator(AccumulatorParam):
    def zero(self, s):
        return s
    def addInPlace(self, s1, s2):
        return s1 + s2

accumulator = sc.accumulator("", StringAccumulator())

def add(x): 
    global accumulator
    accumulator += x

sc.parallelize(["a", "b", "c"]).foreach(add)