Are Dataframes in PySpark Lazy evaluated?

by | Jun 16, 2024 | Pyspark | 0 comments

Yes, DataFrames in PySpark are lazily evaluated, similar to RDDs. Lazy evaluation is a key feature of Spark’s processing model, which helps optimize the execution of transformations and actions on large datasets.

What is Lazy Evaluation?

Lazy evaluation means that Spark does not immediately execute the transformations you apply to a DataFrame. Instead, it builds a logical plan of the transformations, which is only executed when an action is called. This allows Spark to optimize the entire data processing workflow before executing it.

How Lazy Evaluation Works in Spark DataFrames

  1. Transformations:
    • Operations like select, filter, groupBy, and join are considered transformations.
    • These transformations are not executed immediately. Spark keeps track of the operations and builds a logical execution plan.
  2. Actions:
    • Operations like show, collect, count, write, and take are actions.
    • When an action is called, Spark’s Catalyst optimizer converts the logical plan into a physical execution plan, applying various optimizations.
  3. Optimization:
    • The logical plan is optimized by the Catalyst optimizer. This includes:
      • Predicate pushdown: Moving filters closer to the data source.
      • Column pruning: Selecting only the necessary columns.
      • Join optimization: Reordering joins for efficiency.
      • Aggregation pushdown: Pushing aggregations closer to the data source.
  4. Execution:
    • Once the optimized plan is ready, the DAG scheduler breaks it into stages and tasks.
    • Tasks are then distributed across the cluster and executed by the worker nodes.
    • Results are collected and returned to the driver program.

Example to Illustrate Lazy Evaluation

Here is an example to demonstrate lazy evaluation with DataFrames in Spark:

from pyspark.sql import SparkSession

# Initialize Spark session
spark = SparkSession.builder.appName("Lazy Evaluation Example").getOrCreate()

# Load data from a CSV file into a DataFrame
df ="hdfs:///path/to/data.csv", header=True, inferSchema=True)

# Apply transformations (these are lazily evaluated)
filtered_df = df.filter(df['age'] > 21)
selected_df ='name', 'age')
grouped_df = selected_df.groupBy('age').count()

# The above transformations are not executed yet.

# Trigger an action
result = grouped_df.collect()

# The above action triggers the execution of all the previous transformations.

# Stop Spark session

In this example:

  1. Transformations: filter, select, and groupBy are transformations. Spark records these operations but does not execute them immediately.
  2. Action: collect is an action that triggers the execution of the recorded transformations.
  3. Execution: When collect is called, Spark’s optimizer generates an optimized physical plan, and the execution plan is executed.

Benefits of Lazy Evaluation

  1. Optimization: Allows Spark to optimize the entire workflow, resulting in more efficient execution.
  2. Fault Tolerance: Facilitates recomputation in case of failures, as the logical plan is preserved.
  3. Efficiency: Reduces unnecessary data movement and computation by applying optimizations like predicate pushdown and column pruning.


  • Lazy Evaluation: Spark DataFrames are lazily evaluated, meaning transformations are not executed until an action is called.
  • Transformations vs. Actions: Transformations build a logical plan, while actions trigger the execution of that plan.
  • Optimization: Spark’s Catalyst optimizer optimizes the logical plan before execution, leading to efficient data processing.

This lazy evaluation mechanism is a powerful feature of Spark, enabling it to handle large-scale data processing tasks efficiently.

Written by HintsToday Team

Related Posts

Project Alert: Automation in Pyspark

Here is a detailed approach for dividing a monthly PySpark script into multiple code steps. Each step will be saved in the code column of a control DataFrame and executed sequentially. The script will include error handling and pre-checks to ensure source tables are...

What is PySpark DataFrame API? How it relates to Pyspark SQL

In PySpark, you can perform operations on DataFrames using two main APIs: the DataFrame API and the Spark SQL API. Both are powerful and can be used interchangeably to some extent. Here's a breakdown of key concepts and functionalities: 1. Creating DataFrames: you can...

Get the latest news

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *