As mentioned in the Hazelcast Jet 102 section, determining the watermark is somewhat of a black art; it's about superimposing order over a disordered stream of events. We must decide at which point it stops making sense to wait even longer for data about past events to arrive. There's a tension between two opposing forces here:
- wait as long as possible to account for all the data;
- get results as soon as possible.
While there are ways to (kind of) achieve both, there's a significant associated cost in terms of complexity and overal performance. Hazelcast Jet takes a simple approach and strictly triages stream items into "still on time" and "late", discarding the latter.
WatermarkPolicy is the abstraction that computes the value of
the watermark for a (sub)stream of disordered data items. It takes as
input the timestamp of each observed item and outputs the current
Predefined watermark policies
We provide some general, data-agnostic watermark policies in the
WatermarkPolicies class. They vary in how well they deal with
advancing the watermark during a stream lull. The better they deal with
it, the more assumptions they must make on the nature of the events'
timestamp values and on the relationship between the timestamps and the
locally observed wall-clock time.
"With Fixed Lag"
withFixedLag() policy will maintain a watermark that lags behind
the highest observed event timestamp by a configured amount. In other
words, each time an event with the highest timestamp so far is
encountered, this policy advances the watermark to
eventTimestamp - lag. This puts a limit on the spread between timestamps in the stream:
all events whose timestamp is more than the configured
lag behind the
highest timestamp are considered late.
"Limiting Lag and Delay"
limitingLagAndDelay() policy applies the same fixed-lag logic as
above and adds another limit: maximum delay from observing an item and
advancing the watermark to at least that item's timestamp. A stream may
experience a lull (no items arriving) and this added limit will ensure
that the watermark doesn't stay behind the highest timestamp observed
before the onset of the lull. However, the skew between substreams may
still cause the watermark that reaches the downstream vertex to stay
behind some timestamps. This is because the downstream will only get the
lowest of all substream watermarks.
The advantage of this policy is that it doesn't assume anything about the unit of measurement used for event timestamps.
"Limiting Lag and Lull"
limitingLagAndLull() policy is similar to
adressing the stream lull problem and goes a step further by addressing
the issues of lull combined with skew. To achieve this it must introduce
an assumption, though: that the time unit used for event timestamps is
milliseconds. After a given period passes with the watermark not being
advanced by the arriving data (i.e., a lull happens), it will start
advancing it in lockstep with the passage of the local system time. The
watermark isn't adjusted towards the local time; the policy just
ensures the difference between local time and the watermark stays the
same during a lull. Since the system time advances equally on all
substream processors, the watermark propagated to downstream is now
guaranteed to advance regardless of the lull.
There is, however, a subtle issue with
limitingLagAndLull(): if there
is any substream that never observes an item, that substream's policy
instance won't be able to initialize its "last seen timestamp" and will
cause the watermark sent to the downstream to forever lag behind all
the actual data.
"Limiting Timestamp and Wall-Clock Lag"
limitingTimestampAndWallClockLag() policy makes a stronger
assumption: that the event timestamps are in milliseconds since the Unix
epoch and that they are synchronized with the local time on the
processing machine. It puts a limit on how much the watermark can lag
behind the local time. As long as its assumption holds, this policy
gives straightforward results. It also doesn't suffer from the subtle
The policy objects presented above will return the "ideal" watermark
value according to their logic; however it would be too much overhead to
insert a watermark item each time the ideal watermark advances
(typically a thousand times per second).
the object that decides whether to emit a watermark item given the last
emitted and the current value of the watermark. For the purpose of
sliding windows there is an easy answer: suppress all watermark items
that belong to the same frame as the already emitted one. Such items
would have no effect since the watermark must advance beyond a frame's
end for the aggregating vertex to consider the frame completed and act
upon its results. The method
will return a policy with this kind of throttling applied. For other
cases there is
emitByMinStep() which suppresses watermark items until
the watermark has advanced at least
minStep ahead of the previously