This topic describes the implementation mechanism and related API operations of Aggregator. It also describes how to apply Aggregator by using k-means clustering.

Aggregator is a common feature in MaxCompute Graph jobs. It is most suited to handle machine learning issues. In MaxCompute Graph, Aggregator is used to aggregate and process global information.

Implementation mechanism

The logic of Aggregator is divided into two parts:
  • One part is implemented on all workers in distributed mode.
  • The other part is implemented only on the worker where the Aggregator owner resides in single vertex mode.
Initial values are created and some of these values are aggregated on each worker. Then, the partial aggregation results of all workers are sent to the worker where the Aggregator owner resides. This worker then aggregates the received partial aggregation objects into a global aggregation result and determines whether to end the iteration. The global aggregation result is distributed to all workers in the next superstep for iteration.
  1. When each worker starts, it executes createStartupValue to create AggregatorValue.
  2. Before each iteration starts, each worker executes createInitialValue to initialize AggregatorValue for the iteration.
  3. In an iteration, each vertex uses context.aggregate() to call aggregate() to implement partial iteration in the worker.
  4. Each worker sends the partial iteration result to the worker where the Aggregator owner resides.
  5. The worker where the Aggregator owner resides executes merge multiple times to implement global aggregation.
  6. The worker where the Aggregator owner resides executes terminate to process the global aggregation result and determines whether to end the iteration.

API operations

Aggregator provides five API operations. This section describes when and how to use these API operations.
  • createStartupValue(context)

    This API operation is performed once on all workers before each superstep starts. It is used to initialize AggregatorValue. In the first superstep (superstep 0), WorkerContext.getLastAggregatedValue() or ComputeContext.getLastAggregatedValue() is called to obtain the initialized AggregatorValue object.

  • createInitialValue(context)

    This API operation is performed once on all workers when each superstep starts. It is used to initialize AggregatorValue for the current iteration. In most cases, WorkerContext.getLastAggregatedValue() is called to obtain the result of the previous iteration. Then, the partial initialization is implemented.

  • aggregate(value, item)

    This API operation is also performed on all workers. It is triggered by an explicit call to ComputeContext#aggregate(item), while the preceding two API operations are automatically called by the framework. This API operation is used to implement partial aggregation. The first parameter value indicates the aggregation result of the worker in the current superstep. The initial value is the object that is returned by createInitialValue. The second parameter is passed in when ComputeContext#aggregate(item) is called by using your code. In this API operation, item is used to update value for aggregation in most cases. After all the aggregate operations are performed, the obtained value is the partial aggregation result of the worker. The result is then sent by the framework to the worker where the Aggregator owner resides.

  • merge(value, partial)

    This API operation is performed on the worker where the Aggregator owner resides. It is used to merge partial aggregation results of workers to obtain the global aggregation object. Similar to aggregate, value in this API operation indicates the aggregated results, and partial indicates objects that you want to aggregate. partial is used to update value.

    For example, three workers, w0, w1, and w2 generate partial aggregation results p0, p1, and p2. If p1, p0, and p2 are sent in sequence to the worker where the Aggregator owner resides, the merge operations are performed in the following sequence:

    1. merge(p1, p0) is first executed to aggregate p1 and p0 as p1.
    2. merge(p1, p2) is executed to aggregate p1 and p2 as p1. p1 is the global aggregation result in this superstep.

    Therefore, if only one worker exists, the merge method is not required. In this case, merge() is not called.

  • terminate(context, value)

    After the worker where the Aggregator owner resides executes merge(), the framework calls terminate(context, value) to perform the final processing. The second parameter value indicates the global aggregation result that is obtained by calling merge(). The global aggregation result can be further modified in this API operation. After terminate() is executed, the framework distributes the global aggregation object to all workers for the next superstep. If true is returned for terminate(), iteration is ended for the entire job. Otherwise, the iteration continues. If true is returned after convergence is completed, jobs are immediately ended. This applies to machine learning scenarios.

K-means clustering example

This section uses k-means clustering as an example to demonstrate how to use Aggregator.
Note If you need the complete code, see Kmeans. In this section, the code is resolved and is only for reference.
  • GraphLoader

    GraphLoader is used to load an input table and convert it to vertices or edges of a graph. In this example, each row of data in the input table is a sample, each sample constructs a vertex, and vertex values are used to store samples.

    A writable class KmeansValue is defined as the value type of a vertex.
    public static class KmeansValue implements Writable {
        DenseVector sample;
        public KmeansValue() {
        public KmeansValue(DenseVector v) {
            this.sample = v;
            public void write(DataOutput out) throws IOException {
            wirteForDenseVector(out, sample);
            public void readFields(DataInput in) throws IOException {
            sample = readFieldsForDenseVector(in);

    A DenseVector object is encapsulated in KmeansValue to store a sample. The DenseVector type originates from matrix-toolkits-java. wirteForDenseVector() and readFieldsForDenseVector() are used for serialization and deserialization.

    Custom KmeansReader code:
    public static class KmeansReader extends
        GraphLoader<LongWritable, KmeansValue, NullWritable, NullWritable> {
            public void load(
            LongWritable recordNum,
            WritableRecord record,
            MutationContext<LongWritable, KmeansValue, NullWritable, NullWritable> context)
            throws IOException {
            KmeansVertex v = new KmeansVertex();
            int n = record.size();
            DenseVector dv = new DenseVector(n);
            for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
                dv.set(i, ((DoubleWritable)record.get(i)).get());
            v.setValue(new KmeansValue(dv));

    In KmeansReader, a vertex is created when each row of data (a record) is read. recordNum is used as the vertex ID, and the record content is converted to a DenseVector object and encapsulated in VertexValue.

  • Vertex
    Custom KmeansVertex code: The logic of the preceding code is to implement partial aggregation for samples maintained for each iteration. For more information about the code logic, see the implementation of Aggregator.
    public static class KmeansVertex extends
        Vertex<LongWritable, KmeansValue, NullWritable, NullWritable> {
            public void compute(
            ComputeContext<LongWritable, KmeansValue, NullWritable, NullWritable> context,
            Iterable<NullWritable> messages) throws IOException {
  • Aggregator
    The main logic of Kmeans is concentrated on Aggregator. Custom KmeansAggrValue is used to maintain the content you want to aggregate and distribute.
    public static class KmeansAggrValue implements Writable {
        DenseMatrix centroids;
        DenseMatrix sums; // used to recalculate new centroids
        DenseVector counts; // used to recalculate new centroids
            public void write(DataOutput out) throws IOException {
            wirteForDenseDenseMatrix(out, centroids);
            wirteForDenseDenseMatrix(out, sums);
            wirteForDenseVector(out, counts);
            public void readFields(DataInput in) throws IOException {
            centroids = readFieldsForDenseMatrix(in);
            sums = readFieldsForDenseMatrix(in);
            counts = readFieldsForDenseVector(in);
    In the preceding code, three objects are maintained in KmeansAggrValue:
    • centroids: indicates the existing K centers. If the sample is m-dimensional, centroids is a matrix of K × m.
    • sums: indicates a matrix of the same size as centroids. Each element records the sum of a specific dimension of the sample that is closest to a specific center. For example, sums(i,j) indicates the sum of dimension j of the sample that is closest to center i.
    • counts is a K-dimensional vector. It records the number of samples that are closest to each center. counts is used with sums to calculate a new center, which is the main content to be aggregated.
    KmeansAggregator is a custom Aggregator implementation class. The following section describes the implementation of the preceding API operations:
    1. Implementation of createStartupValue()
      public static class KmeansAggregator extends Aggregator<KmeansAggrValue> {
          public KmeansAggrValue createStartupValue(WorkerContext context) throws IOException {
              KmeansAggrValue av = new KmeansAggrValue();
              byte[] centers = context.readCacheFile("centers");
              String lines[] = new String(centers).split("\n");
              int rows = lines.length;
              int cols = lines[0].split(",").length; // assumption rows >= 1
              av.centroids = new DenseMatrix(rows, cols);
              av.sums = new DenseMatrix(rows, cols);
              av.counts = new DenseVector(rows);
              for (int i = 0; i < lines.length; i++) {
                  String[] ss = lines[i].split(",");
                  for (int j = 0; j < ss.length; j++) {
                      av.centroids.set(i, j, Double.valueOf(ss[j]));
              return av;

      This method initializes a KmeansAggrValue object, reads the initial center from the centers file, and assigns a value to centroids. The initial values of sums and counts are 0.

    2. Implementation of createInitialValue()
      public KmeansAggrValue createInitialValue(WorkerContext context)
          throws IOException {
          KmeansAggrValue av = (KmeansAggrValue)context.getLastAggregatedValue(0);
          // reset for next iteration
          return av;

      This method first obtains KmeansAggrValue of the previous iteration and clears the values of sums and counts. Only the centroids value of the previous iteration is retained.

    3. Implementation of aggregate()
      public void aggregate(KmeansAggrValue value, Object item)
          throws IOException {
          DenseVector sample = ((KmeansValue)item).sample;
          // find the nearest centroid
          int min = findNearestCentroid(value.centroids, sample);
          // update sum and count
          for (int i = 0; i < sample.size(); i ++) {
              value.sums.add(min, i, sample.get(i));
          value.counts.add(min, 1.0d);

      This method calls findNearestCentroid() to identify the index of the center that is closest to the sample item, uses sums to aggregate all dimensions, and increments the value of counts by 1.

    The preceding three methods are executed on all workers to implement partial aggregation. The following methods can be used to implement global aggregation on the worker where the Aggregator owner resides:
    1. Implementation of merge()
      public void merge(KmeansAggrValue value, KmeansAggrValue partial)
          throws IOException {

      In the preceding example, the implementation logic of merge is to add the values of sums and counts aggregated by each worker.

    2. Implementation of terminate()
      public boolean terminate(WorkerContext context, KmeansAggrValue value)
          throws IOException {
          // Calculate the new means to be the centroids (original sums)
          DenseMatrix newCentriods = calculateNewCentroids(value.sums, value.counts, value.centroids);
          // print old centroids and new centroids for debugging
          System.out.println("\nsuperstep: " + context.getSuperstep() +
                             "\nold centriod:\n" + value.centroids + " new centriod:\n" + newCentriods);
          boolean converged = isConverged(newCentriods, value.centroids, 0.05d);
          System.out.println("superstep: " + context.getSuperstep() + "/"
                             + (context.getMaxIteration() - 1) + " converged: " + converged);
          if (converged || context.getSuperstep() == context.getMaxIteration() - 1) {
              // converged or reach max iteration, output centriods
              for (int i = 0; i < newCentriods.numRows(); i++) {
                  Writable[] centriod = new Writable[newCentriods.numColumns()];
                  for (int j = 0; j < newCentriods.numColumns(); j++) {
                      centriod[j] = new DoubleWritable(newCentriods.get(i, j));
              // true means to terminate iteration
              return true;
          // update centriods
          // false means to continue iteration
          return false;

      In the preceding example, teminate() calls calculateNewCentroids() based on sums and counts to calculate the average value and obtain a new center. Then, isConverged() is called to check whether the center is converged based on the Euclidean distance between the new and old centers. If the number of convergences or iterations reaches the upper limit, the new center is generated, and true is returned to end the iteration. Otherwise, the center is updated, and false is returned to continue the iteration.

  • main method
    The main method is used to construct GraphJob, configure related settings, and submit a job.
    public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {
        if (args.length < 2)
        GraphJob job = new GraphJob();
        // default max iteration is 30
        if (args.length >= 3)
        long start = System.currentTimeMillis();;
        System.out.println("Job Finished in "
                           + (System.currentTimeMillis() - start) / 1000.0 + " seconds");
    Note If job.setRuntimePartitioning is set to false, data loaded by each worker is not partitioned based on the partitioner. Data is loaded and maintained by the same worker.