Input and Output Formats in MapReduce

Apache Hadoop is a popular open-source framework for processing and analyzing large datasets in parallel across a distributed cluster. One of the key components of Hadoop is MapReduce, which allows us to write distributed data processing tasks in a simple and scalable manner. In the context of MapReduce, input and output formats play a crucial role in defining how data is read into and written from the system.

Input Formats

In MapReduce, an input format determines how the framework reads data from its input source and presents it to the mapper function for processing. Hadoop provides various built-in input formats to handle different types of data sources:

  1. Text Input Format: This is the default input format, where each input record represents a line of text. The set of key-value pairs supplied to the mapper function includes the byte offset of the record within the input file as the key and the line content as the value.

  2. Key-Value Input Format: This input format is suitable for data represented as key-value pairs, where each line represents a separate record. The framework splits each line into a key-value pair based on specified delimiters or patterns.

  3. Sequence File Input Format: This format allows the processing of binary key-value pairs stored in a compact file format. It enables faster data reading and supports compression for efficient storage.

  4. Custom Input Formats: Hadoop also allows developers to create custom input formats by extending the FileInputFormat class and implementing the necessary logic for data reading and parsing. This flexibility enables processing of specialized data formats or proprietary datasets.

Output Formats

Similar to input formats, output formats dictate how the results of MapReduce tasks are written to the desired output destination. Some commonly used output formats are:

  1. Text Output Format: This is the default output format, where each record is written as a line of text. The key and value pairs produced by the reducer function are transformed into a string representation and saved in the output file.

  2. Sequence File Output Format: This format allows the storage of key-value pairs in a binary file. It provides a compact and efficient way to store large volumes of structured data.

  3. Multiple Output Format: Hadoop supports writing output to multiple files or directories based on some condition specified within the MapReduce job. This format is useful when we need to partition the output based on certain criteria or distribute it across different locations.

  4. Custom Output Formats: Developers can create custom output formats by extending the FileOutputFormat class and implementing the necessary logic for writing data to the desired output source. This allows adapting the output format to specific requirements or integrating with external systems.


In summary, input and output formats in MapReduce define how data is read into and written from the Hadoop ecosystem. The flexibility of Hadoop allows developers to leverage various pre-defined formats or implement custom formats to handle different types of data sources and output destinations. Understanding these formats is essential for effective data processing and analysis using Hadoop's MapReduce framework.

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