Data science in Spark with sparklyr :: Cheatsheet


Databricks Connect (v2)

Supported in Databricks Connect v2

  1. Open your .Renviron file: usethis::edit_r_environ()

  2. In the .Renviron file add your Databricks Host Url and Token (PAT):

    • DATABRICKS_HOST = \[Your Host URL\]
  3. Install extension: install.packages("pysparklyr")

  4. Open connection:

sc <- spark_connect(
  cluster_id = "[Your cluster’s ID]",
  method = "databricks_connect"

Standalone cluster

  1. Install RStudio Server on one of the existing nodes or a server in the same LAN

  2. Open a connection

  version = "3.2",
  spark_home = [path to Spark]

Yarn client

  1. Install RStudio Server on an edge node

  2. Locate path to the clusterʼs Spark Home Directory, it normally is "/usr/lib/spark"

  3. Basic configuration example

conf <- spark_config()
conf$spark.executor.memory <- "300M"
conf$spark.executor.cores <- 2
conf$spark.executor.instances <- 3
  1. Open a connection
sc <- spark_connect(
  master = "yarn",
  spark_home = "/usr/lib/spark/",
  version = "2.1.0", config = conf

Yarn cluster

  1. Make sure to have copies of the yarn-site.xml and hive-site.xml files in the RStudio Server

  2. Point environment variables to the correct paths

Sys.setenv(SPARK_HOME ="[Path]")
Sys.setenv(YARN_CONF_DIR ="[Path]")
  1. Open a connection
sc <- spark_connect(master = "yarn-cluster")


  1. Use the following to obtain the Host and Port system2("kubectl", "cluster-info")

  2. Open a connection

sc <- spark_connect(
  config = spark_config_kubernetes(
    account = "default",
    image = ""

Local mode

No cluster required. Use for learning purposes only

  1. Install a local version of Spark: spark_install()

  2. Open a connection

sc <- spark_connect(master="local") 


Azure - spark_connect(method = "synapse")

Qubole - spark_connect(method = "qubole")


R push complete to Spark back to R collecting results. Also import from Source to Spark.

Import data into Spark, not R

Read a file into Spark

Arguments that apply to all functions:

sc, name, path, options=list(), repartition=0, memory=TRUE, overwrite=TRUE

  • CSV: spark_read_csv(header = TRUE, columns = NULL, infer_schema = TRUE, delimiter = ",", quote= "\"", escape = "\\", charset = "UTF-8", null_value = NULL)
  • JSON: spark_read_json()
  • PARQUET: spark_read_parquet()
  • TEXT: spark_read_text()
  • DELTA: spark_read_delta()

From a table

  • dplyr::tbl(scr, ...) - Creates a reference to the table without loading its data into memory

  • dbplyr::in_catalog() - Enables a three part table address

x <- tbl(sc,in_catalog("catalog", "schema", "table"))

R data frame into Spark

Supported in Databricks Connect v2

dplyr::copy_to(dest, df, name)

Apache Arrow accelerates data transfer between R and Spark. To use, simply load the library



dplyr verbs

Supported in Databricks Connect v2

Translates into Spark SQL statements

copy_to(sc, mtcars) |>
  mutate(trm = ifelse(am == 0, "auto", "man")) |>
  group_by(trm) |>


  • pivot_longer() - Collapse several columns into two. (Supported in Databricks Connect v2)

  • pivot_wider() - Expand two columns into several. (Supported in Databricks Connect v2)

  • nest() / unnest() - Convert groups of cells into list-columns, and vice versa.

  • unite() / separate() - Split a single column into several columns, and vice versa.

  • fill() - Fill NA with the previous value.

Feature transformers

  • ft_binarizer() - Assigned values based on threshold
  • ft_bucketizer() - Numeric column to discretized column
  • ft_count_vectorizer() - Extracts a vocabulary from document
  • ft_discrete_cosine_transform() - 1D discrete cosine transform of a real vector
  • ft_elementwise_product() - Element- wise product between 2 cols
  • ft_hashing_tf() - Maps a sequence of terms to their term frequencies using the hashing trick.
  • ft_idf() - Compute the Inverse Document Frequency (IDF) given a collection of documents.
  • ft_imputer() - Imputation estimator for completing missing values, uses the mean or the median of the columns.
  • ft_index_to_string() - Index labels back to label as strings
  • ft_interaction() - Takes in Double and Vector columns and outputs a flattened vector of their feature interactions.
  • ft_max_abs_scaler() - Rescale each feature individually to range [-1, 1] (Supported in Databricks Connect v2)
  • ft_min_max_scaler() - Rescale each feature to a common range [min, max] linearly
  • ft_ngram() - Converts the input array of strings into an array of n-grams
  • ft_bucketed_random_projection_lsh()
  • ft_minhash_lsh() - Locality Sensitive Hashing functions for Euclidean distance and Jaccard distance (MinHash)
  • ft_normalizer() - Normalize a vector to have unit norm using the given p-norm
  • ft_one_hot_encoder() - Continuous to binary vectors
  • ft_pca() - Project vectors to a lower dimensional space of top k principal components
  • ft_quantile_discretizer() - Continuous to binned categorical values.
  • ft_regex_tokenizer() - Extracts tokens either by using the provided regex pattern to split the text
  • ft_robust_scaler() - Removes the median and scales according to standard scale
  • ft_standard_scaler() - Removes the mean and scaling to unit variance using column summary statistics (Supported in Databricks Connect v2)
  • ft_stop_words_remover() - Filters out stop words from input
  • ft_string_indexer() - Column of labels into a column of label indices.
  • ft_tokenizer() - Converts to lowercase and then splits it by white spaces
  • ft_vector_assembler() - Combine vectors into single row-vector
  • ft_vector_indexer() - Indexing categorical feature columns in a dataset of Vector
  • ft_vector_slicer() - Takes a feature vector and outputs a new feature vector with a subarray of the original features
  • ft_word2vec() - Word2Vec transforms a word into a code


dplyr + ggplot2

Supported in Databricks Connect v2

copy_to(sc, mtcars) |>
  group_by(cyl) |>
  summarise(mpg_m = mean(mpg)) |> # Summarize in Spark
  collect() |>                    # Collect results in R
  ggplot() +
  geom_col(aes(cyl, mpg_m))        # Create plot



  • ml_linear_regression() - Linear regression.
  • ml_aft_survival_regression() - Parametric survival regression model named accelerated failure time (AFT) model.
  • ml_generalized_linear_regression() - GLM.
  • ml_isotonic_regression() - Uses parallelized pool adjacent violators algorithm.
  • ml_random_forest_regressor() - Regression using random forests.


  • ml_linear_svc() - Classification using linear support vector machines.
  • ml_logistic_regression() - Logistic regression. (Supported in Databricks Connect v2)
  • ml_multilayer_perceptron_classifier() - Based on the Multilayer Perceptron.
  • ml_naive_bayes() - It supports Multinomial NB which can handle finitely supported discrete data.
  • ml_one_vs_rest() - Reduction of Multiclass, performs reduction using one against all strategy.


  • ml_decision_tree_classifier(), ml_decision_tree(), `ml_decision_tree_regressor(). - Classification and regression using decision trees.
  • ml_gbt_classifier(), ml_gradient_boosted_trees(), ml_gbt_regressor() - Binary classification and regression using gradient boosted trees.
  • ml_random_forest_classifier() - Classification and regression using random forests.
  • ml_feature_importances(), ml_tree_feature_importance() - Feature Importance for Tree Models.


  • ml_bisecting_kmeans() - A bisecting k-means algorithm based on the paper.
  • ml_lda(), ml_describe_topics(), ml_log_likelihood(), ml_log_perplexity(), ml_topics_matrix() - LDA topic model designed for text documents.
  • ml_gaussian_mixture() - Expectation maximization for multivariate Gaussian Mixture Models (GMMs).
  • ml_kmeans(), ml_compute_cost(), ml_compute_silhouette_measure() - Clustering with support for k-means.
  • ml_power_iteration() - For clustering vertices of a graph given pairwise similarities as edge properties.


  • ml_als(), ml_recommend() - Recommendation using Alternating Least Squares matrix factorization.


  • ml_clustering_evaluator() - Evaluator for clustering.
  • ml_evaluate() - Compute performance metrics.
  • ml_binary_classification_evaluator(), ml_binary_classification_eval(), ml_classification_eval() - A set of functions to calculate performance metrics for prediction models.

Frequent pattern

  • ml_fpgrowth(), ml_association_rules(), ml_freq_itemsets() - A parallel FP-growth algorithm to mine frequent itemsets.
  • ml_freq_seq_patterns(), ml_prefixspan() - PrefixSpan algorithm for mining frequent itemsets.


  • ml_summary() - Extracts a metric from the summary object of a Spark ML model.
  • ml_corr() - Compute correlation matrix.


  • ml_chisquare_test(x,features,label) - Pearson’s independence test for every feature against the label.
  • ml_default_stop_words() - Loads the default stop words for the given language.


  • ml_call_constructor() - Identifies the associated sparklyr ML constructor for the JVM.
  • ml_model_data() - Extracts data associated with a Spark ML model.
  • ml_standardize_formula() - Generates a formula string from user inputs.
  • ml_uid() - Extracts the UID of an ML object.

ML pipelines

Easily create a formal Spark Pipeline models using R. Save the Pipeline in native Sacala. It will have no dependencies on R.

Initialize and train

Supported in Databricks Connect v2

  • ml_pipeline() - Initializes a new Spark Pipeline.
  • ml_fit() - Trains the model, outputs a Spark Pipeline Model.

Save and retrieve

Supported in Databricks Connect v2

  • ml_save() - Saves into a format that can be read by Scala and PySpark.
  • ml_read() - Reads Spark object into sparklyr.

ml_pipeline() to ft_dplyr_transformer to ft_bucketizer() to ml_linear_regression() to ml_fit() to ml_save().

Distributed R

Supported in Databricks Connect v2

Run arbitrary R code at scale inside your cluster with spark_apply(). Useful when there you need functionality only available in R, and to solve ‘embarrassingly parallel problems’.

  x, f, 
  columns = NULL, memory = TRUE, group_by = NULL, 
  name = NULL, barrier = NULL, fetch_result_as_sdf = TRUE
copy_to(sc, mtcars) |>
    nrow, # R only function
    group_by = "am", 
    columns = "am double, x long"

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Updated: 2024-06.

[1] '1.8.6'