March 6th, 2013
For anyone who came of programming age before cloud computing burst its way into the technology scene, data analysis has long been synonymous with SQL. A slightly awkward, declarative language whose production can more resemble logic puzzle solving than coding, SQL and the relational databases it builds on have been the pervasive standard for how to deal with data.
As the world has changed, so too has our data; an ever-increasing amount of data is now stored without a rigorous schema, or must be joined to outside data sets to be useful. Compounding this problem, often the amounts of data are so large that working with them on a traditional SQL database is so non-performant as to be impractical.
Enter Pig, a SQL-like language that gracefully tolerates inconsistent schemas, and that runs on Hadoop. (Hadoop is a massively parallel platform for processing the largest of data sets in reasonable amounts of time. Hadoop powers Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to name a few in a growing list.)
This then is a brief guide for the SQL developer diving into the waters of Pig Latin for the first time. Pig is similar enough to SQL to be familiar, but divergent enough to be disorienting to newcomers. The goal of this guide is to ease the friction in adding Pig to an existing SQL skillset.
It’s always nice to explain the new with the old…