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Distributed indexing

Collections are often so large that we cannot perform index construction efficiently on a single machine. This is particularly true of the World Wide Web for which we need large computer clusters [*]to construct any reasonably sized web index. Web search engines, therefore, use distributed indexing algorithms for index construction. The result of the construction process is a distributed index that is partitioned across several machines - either according to term or according to document. In this section, we describe distributed indexing for a

term-partitioned index . Most large search engines prefer a document-partitioned index (which can be easily generated from a term-partitioned index). We discuss this topic further in Section 20.3 (page [*]).

The distributed index construction method we describe in this section is an application of MapReduce , a general architecture for distributed computing. MapReduce is designed for large computer clusters. The point of a cluster is to solve large computing problems on cheap commodity machines or nodes that are built from standard parts (processor, memory, disk) as opposed to on a supercomputer with specialized hardware. Although hundreds or thousands of machines are available in such clusters, individual machines can fail at any time. One requirement for robust distributed indexing is, therefore, that we divide the work up into chunks that we can easily assign and - in case of failure - reassign. A master node directs the process of assigning and reassigning tasks to individual worker nodes.

The map and reduce phases of MapReduce split up the computing job into chunks that standard machines can process in a short time. The various steps of MapReduce are shown in Figure 4.5 and an example on a collection consisting of two documents is shown in Figure 4.6 . First, the input data, in our case a collection of web pages, are split into $n$ splits where the size of the split is chosen to ensure that the work can be distributed evenly (chunks should not be too large) and efficiently (the total number of chunks we need to manage should not be too large); 16 or 64 MB are good sizes in distributed indexing. Splits are not preassigned to machines, but are instead assigned by the master node on an ongoing basis: As a machine finishes processing one split, it is assigned the next one. If a machine dies or becomes a laggard due to hardware problems, the split it is working on is simply reassigned to another machine.

Figure 4.5: An example of distributed indexing with MapReduce. Adapted from Dean and Ghemawat (2004).

In general, MapReduce breaks a large computing problem into smaller parts by recasting it in terms of manipulation of key-value pairs . For indexing, a key-value pair has the form (termID,docID). In distributed indexing, the mapping from terms to termIDs is also distributed and therefore more complex than in single-machine indexing. A simple solution is to maintain a (perhaps precomputed) mapping for frequent terms that is copied to all nodes and to use terms directly (instead of termIDs) for infrequent terms. We do not address this problem here and assume that all nodes share a consistent term $\rightarrow$ termID mapping.

The map phase of MapReduce consists of mapping splits of the input data to key-value pairs. This is the same parsing task we also encountered in BSBI and SPIMI, and we therefore call the machines that execute the map phase parsers . Each parser writes its output to local intermediate files, the segment files (shown as \fbox{a-f\medstrut} \fbox{g-p\medstrut} \fbox{q-z\medstrut} in Figure 4.5 ).

For the reduce phase , we want all values for a given key to be stored close together, so that they can be read and processed quickly. This is achieved by partitioning the keys into $j$ term partitions and having the parsers write key-value pairs for each term partition into a separate segment file. In Figure 4.5 , the term partitions are according to first letter: a-f, g-p, q-z, and $j=3$. (We chose these key ranges for ease of exposition. In general, key ranges need not correspond to contiguous terms or termIDs.) The term partitions are defined by the person who operates the indexing system (Exercise 4.6 ). The parsers then write corresponding segment files, one for each term partition. Each term partition thus corresponds to $r$ segments files, where $r$ is the number of parsers. For instance, Figure 4.5 shows three a-f segment files of the a-f partition, corresponding to the three parsers shown in the figure.

Collecting all values (here: docIDs) for a given key (here: termID) into one list is the task of the inverters in the reduce phase. The master assigns each term partition to a different inverter - and, as in the case of parsers, reassigns term partitions in case of failing or slow inverters. Each term partition (corresponding to $r$ segment files, one on each parser) is processed by one inverter. We assume here that segment files are of a size that a single machine can handle (Exercise 4.6 ). Finally, the list of values is sorted for each key and written to the final sorted postings list (``postings'' in the figure). (Note that postings in Figure 4.6 include term frequencies, whereas each posting in the other sections of this chapter is simply a docID without term frequency information.) The data flow is shown for a-f in Figure 4.5 . This completes the construction of the inverted index.

Parsers and inverters are not separate sets of machines. The master identifies idle machines and assigns tasks to them. The same machine can be a parser in the map phase and an inverter in the reduce phase. And there are often other jobs that run in parallel with index construction, so in between being a parser and an inverter a machine might do some crawling or another unrelated task.

To minimize write times before inverters reduce the data, each parser writes its segment files to its local disk. In the reduce phase, the master communicates to an inverter the locations of the relevant segment files (e.g., of the $r$ segment files of the a-f partition). Each segment file only requires one sequential read because all data relevant to a particular inverter were written to a single segment file by the parser. This setup minimizes the amount of network traffic needed during indexing.

\includegraphics[width=13cm]{art/figure4.6.eps} Map and reduce functions in MapReduce. In general, the map function produces a list of key-value pairs. All values for a key are collected into one list in the reduce phase. This list is then processed further. The instantiations of the two functions and an example are shown for index construction. Because the map phase processes documents in a distributed fashion, termID-docID pairs need not be ordered correctly initially as in this example. The example shows terms instead of termIDs for better readability. We abbreviate Caesar as C and conquered as c'ed.

Figure 4.6 shows the general schema of the MapReduce functions. Input and output are often lists of key-value pairs themselves, so that several MapReduce jobs can run in sequence. In fact, this was the design of the Google indexing system in 2004. What we describe in this section corresponds to only one of five to ten MapReduce operations in that indexing system. Another MapReduce operation transforms the term-partitioned index we just created into a document-partitioned one.

MapReduce offers a robust and conceptually simple framework for implementing index construction in a distributed environment. By providing a semiautomatic method for splitting index construction into smaller tasks, it can scale to almost arbitrarily large collections, given computer clusters of sufficient size.


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