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Learn all about Apache Spark Data Types

By: Adam Richardson
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In this blog post, we will explore the different data types available in PySpark and how to use them effectively in your data processing tasks.

What are Data Types?

In programming, data types refer to the kind of value that a variable can hold. For example, a variable of type integer can only hold whole numbers, while a variable of type string can hold a sequence of characters. Different programming languages have different sets of data types, and it is important to choose the right data type for your variables to ensure that your code runs correctly and efficiently.

Suggested Reading

Learn everything you need to know about Apache Spark with this comprehensive guide. We will cover Apache spark basics, all the way to advanced.

Data Types in PySpark

PySpark supports a wide range of data types, including basic types such as integer, float, and string, as well as more complex types such as array, map, and struct. In this section, we will take a closer look at each of these data types and how they can be used in PySpark.

List of data types in Spark SQL

  • null: represents a null value.
  • boolean: represents a true/false value.
  • byte: represents a 8-bit signed integer.
  • short: represents a 16-bit signed integer.
  • integer: represents a 32-bit signed integer.
  • long: represents a 64-bit signed integer.
  • float: represents a single-precision floating-point number.
  • double: represents a double-precision floating-point number.
  • decimal: represents a fixed-precision decimal number.
  • string: represents a sequence of characters.
  • binary: represents a sequence of bytes.
  • date: represents a date (without a time).
  • timestamp: represents a timestamp (with a time and a timezone).
  • array: represents a list of values with the same data type.
  • map: represents a set of key-value pairs with the same data types for the keys and values.
  • struct: represents a structured record with a set of named fields with their own data types.

Detailed look into Data Types

Apache Spark null type

The null data type is often used to represent missing or unknown values in a dataset. For example, consider a dataset of customer information that includes a column for the customer’s age. Some customers may not have provided their age, in which case the age column would contain a null value for those customers. In many databases, you need to set the option if a column is allowed to be null.

Apache Spark boolean type

The boolean data type is often used to represent true/false values in a dataset. For example, consider a dataset of customer orders that includes a column indicating whether or not the order has been shipped. This column could use a boolean data type, with true indicating that the order has been shipped and false indicating that it has not.

Apache Spark byte type

The byte data type is often used to store small integer values that do not require a lot of space. For example, consider a dataset of product information that includes a column for the number of items in stock. If the number of items is always relatively small (e.g., less than 256), then the byte data type could be used to store this information efficiently.

Apache Spark short type

The short data type is often used to store small integer values that require more space than a byte but less space than an integer. For example, consider a dataset of employee information that includes a column for the employee’s ID number. If the ID numbers are always relatively small (e.g., less than 32768) and need to be stored efficiently, the short data type could be used.

Apache Spark integer type

The integer data type is often used to store whole numbers that do not require a lot of precision. For example, consider a dataset of sales data that includes a column for the number of units sold. If the number of units sold is always a whole number and does not require a lot of precision (e.g., there are no fractional units sold), then the integer data type could be used.

Apache Spark long type

The long data type is often used to store large integer values that do not fit within the range of the integer data type. For example, consider a dataset of social media followers that includes a column for the number of followers. If the number of followers is very large (e.g., millions or billions), then the long data type might be needed to store this information.

Apache Spark float type

The float data type is often used to store decimal numbers that do not require a lot of precision. For example, consider a dataset of financial data that includes a column for currency amounts. If the currency amounts do not require a lot of precision (e.g., there are no values with more than two decimal places), then the float data type could be used.

Apache Spark double type

The double data type is often used to store decimal numbers that require more precision than the float data type can provide. For example, consider a dataset of scientific measurements that includes a column for very precise decimal values. If the decimal values need to be stored with a high level of precision (e.g., values with many decimal places), then the double data type might be needed.

Apache Spark decimal type

The decimal data type is used to store fixed-precision decimal numbers. It is often used to store decimal values that require a high level of precision, such as financial amounts or scientific measurements.

Apache Spark string type

The string data type is often used to store sequences of characters, such as names, addresses, and descriptions. For example, consider a dataset of customer information that includes a column for the customer’s name. The string data type would be a good choice for this column because it can store any combination of letters, numbers, and other characters.

Apache Spark binary type

The binary data type is often used to store sequences of bytes, such as images, audio files, and other types of media. For example, consider a dataset of product information that includes a column for product images. The binary data type could be used to store the image data in this column.

Apache Spark date type

The date data type is used to store dates (without a time). It is often used to represent the date on which a particular event occurred, such as a customer’s birthday or an order’s shipping date.

Apache Spark timestamp type

The timestamp data type is used to store timestamps (with a time and a timezone). It is often used to represent the time at which a particular event occurred, such as a customer’s order time or a website’s log entry time

Apache Spark map type

The map data type is used to store a set of key-value pairs with the same data types for the keys and values. It is often used to represent a set of related attributes, such as a product’s dimensions (width, height, depth) or a person’s contact information (phone number, email address, physical address).

Apache Spark struct type

The struct data type is used to store a structured record with a set of named fields with their own data types. It is often used to represent a complex object with multiple attributes, such as a customer record or a product review.

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