This manual is for an old version of Hazelcast Jet, use the latest stable version.

In this tutorial we'll explore what the DAG model offers beyond the simple cascade of computing steps. Our DAG will feature splits, joins, broadcast, and prioritized edges. We'll access data from the file system and show a simple technique to distribute file reading across Jet members. Several vertices we use can't be implemented in terms of out-of-the-box processors, so we'll also show you how to implement your own with minimum boilerplate.

The full code is available at the hazelcast-jet-code-samples repository:

Let us first introduce the problem. The inverted index is a basic data structure in the domain of full-text search. First used in the 1950s, it is still at the core of modern information retrieval systems such as Lucene. The goal is to be able to quickly find the documents that contain a given set of search terms, and to sort them by relevance. To understand it we'll need to throw in some terminology...

  • A document is treated as a list of words that has a unique ID. It is useful to define the notion of a document index which maps each document ID to the list of words it contains. We won't build this index; it's just for the sake of explanation.
  • The inverted index is the inverse of the document index: it maps each word to the list of documents that contain it. This is the fundamental building block in our search algorithm: it will allow us to find in O(1) time all documents relevant to a search term.
  • In the inverted index, each entry in the list is assigned a TF-IDF score which quantifies how relevant the document is to the search request.
    • Let DF (document frequency) be the length of the list: the number of documents that contain the word.
    • Let D be the total number of documents that were indexed.
    • IDF (inverse document frequency) is equal to log(D/DF).
    • TF (term frequency) is the number of occurrences of the word in the document.
    • TF-IDF score is simply the product of TF * IDF.

Note that IDF is a property of the word itself: it quantifies the relevance of each entered word to the search request as a whole. The list of entered words can be perceived as a list of filtering functions that we apply to the full set of documents. A more relevant word will apply a stronger filter. Specifically, common words like "the", "it", "on" act as pure "pass-through" filters and consequently have an IDF of zero, making them completely irrelevant to the search.

TF, on the other hand, is the property of the combination of word and document, and tells us how relevant the document is to the word, regardless of the relevance of the word itself.

When the user enters a search phrase:

  1. each individual term from the phrase is looked up in the inverted index;
  2. an intersection is found of all the lists, resulting in the list of documents that contain all the words;
  3. each document is scored by summing the TF-IDF contributions of each word;
  4. the result list is sorted by score (descending) and presented to the user.

Let's have a look at a specific search phrase:

the man in the black suit murdered the king

The list of documents that contain all the above words is quite long... how do we decide which are the most relevant? The TF-IDF logic will make those stand out that have an above-average occurrence of words that are generally rare across all documents. For example, "murdered" occurs in far fewer documents than "black"... so given two documents where one has the same number of "murdered" as the other one has of "black", the one with "murdered" wins because its word is more salient in general. On the other hand, "suit" and "king" might have a similar IDF, so the document that simply contains more of both wins.

Also note the limitation of this technique: a phrase is treated as just the sum of its parts; a document may contain the exact phrase and this will not affect its score.

Building the Inverted Index with Java Streams

To warm us up, let's see what it takes to build the inverted index with just thread parallelism and without the ability to scale out across many machines. It is expressible in Java Streams API without too much work. The full code is here.

We'll start by preparing a Stream<Entry<Long, String>> docWords: a stream of all the words found in all the documents. We use Map.Entry as a holder of a pair of values (a 2-tuple) and here we have a pair of Long docId and String word:

Stream<Entry<Long, String>> docWords = docId2Name

We know the number of all documents so we can compute double logDocCount, the logarithm of the document count:

double logDocCount = Math.log(docId2Name.size());

Calculating TF is very easy, just count the number of occurrences of each distinct pair and save the result in a Map<Entry<Long, String>, Long>:

// TF map: (docId, word) -> count
final Map<Entry<Long, String>, Long> tfMap = docWords
        .collect(groupingBy(identity(), counting()));

And now we build the inverted index. We start from tfMap, group by word, and the list under each word already matches our final product: the list of all the documents containing the word. We finish off by applying a transformation to the list: currently it's just the raw entries from the tf map, but we need pairs (docId, tfIDfScore).

invertedIndex = tfMap
    .entrySet() // set of ((docId, word), count)
        e -> e.getKey().getValue(),
            entries -> {
                double idf = logDocCount - Math.log(entries.size());
                              .map(e -> tfidfEntry(e, idf))

// ((docId, word), count) -> (docId, tfIdf)
private static Entry<Long, Double> tfidfEntry(
        Entry<Entry<Long, String>, Long> tfEntry, Double idf
) {
    final Long tf = tfEntry.getValue();
    return entry(tfEntry.getKey().getKey(), tf * idf);

The search function can be implemented with another Streams expression, which you can review in the SearchGui class. You can also run the TfIdfJdkStreams class and take the inverted index for a spin, making actual searches.

There is one last concept in this model that we haven't mentioned yet: the stopword set. It contains those words that are known in advance to be common enough to occur in every document. Without treatment, these words are the worst case for the inverted index: the document list under each such word is the longest possible, and the score of all documents is zero due to zero IDF. They raise the index's memory footprint without providing any value. The cure is to prepare a file, stopwords.txt, which is read in advance into a Set<String> and used to filter out the words in the tokenization phase. The same set is used to cross out words from the user's search phrase, as if they weren't entered. We'll add this feature to our DAG based model in the following section.

Translating to Jet DAG

Our DAG as a whole will look relatively complex, but it can be understood as a "backbone" (cascade of vertices) starting from a source and ending in a sink with several more vertices attached on the side. This is just the backbone:

Backbone of the TF-IDF DAG

  1. The data source is a Hazelcast IMap which holds a mapping from document ID to its filename. The source vertex will emit all the map's entries, but only a subset on each cluster member.
  2. doc-lines opens each file named by the map entry and emits all its lines in the (docId, line) format.
  3. tokenize transforms each line into a sequence of its words, again paired with the document ID, so it emits (docId, word).
  4. tf builds a set of all distinct pairs emitted from tokenize and maintains the count of each pair's occurrences (its TF score).
  5. tf-idf takes that set, groups the pairs by word, and calculates the TF-IDF scores. It emits the results to the sink, which saves them to a distributed IMap.

Edge types follow the same pattern as in the word-counting job: after flatmapping there is first a local, then a distributed partitioned edge. The logic behind it is not the same, though: TF can actually compute the final TF scores by observing just the local data. This is because it treats each document separately (document ID is a part of the grouping key) and the source data is already partitioned by document ID. The TF-IDF vertex does something similar to word count's combining, but there's again a twist: it will group the TF entries by word, but instead of just merging them into a single result per word, it will keep them all in lists.

To this cascade we add a stopword-source which reads the stopwords file, parses it into a HashSet, and sends the whole set as a single item to the tokenize vertex. We also add a vertex that takes the data from doc-source and simply counts its items; this is the total document count used in the TF-IDF formula. We end up with this DAG:


The choice of edge types into and out of doc-count may look surprising, so let's examine it. We start with the doc-source vertex, which emits one item per document, but its output is distributed across the cluster. To get the full document count on each member, each doc-count processor must get all the items, and that's just what the distributed broadcast edge will achieve. We'll configure doc-count with local parallelism of 1, so there will be one processor on every member, each observing all the doc-source items. The output of doc-count must reach all tf-idf processors on the same member, so we use the local broadcast edge.

Another thing to note are the two flat-mapping vertices: doc-lines and tokenize. From a purely semantic standpoint, composing flatmap with flatmap yields just another flatmap. As we'll see below, we're using custom code for these two processors... so why did we choose to separate the logic this way? There are actually two good reasons. The first one has to do with Jet's cooperative multithreading model: doc-lines makes blocking file IO calls, so it must be declared non-cooperative; tokenization is pure computation so it can be in a cooperative processor. The second one is more general: the workload of doc-lines is very uneven. It consists of waiting, then suddenly coming up with a whole block of data. If we left tokenization there, performance would suffer because first the CPU would be forced to sit idle, then we'd be late in making the next IO call while tokenizing the input. The separate vertex can proceed at full speed all the time.

Implementation Code

As we announced, some of the processors in our DAG will need custom implementation code. Let's start from the source vertex. It is easy, just the standard IMap reader:

dag.newVertex("doc-source", Processors.readMap(DOCID_NAME));

The stopwords-producing processor has custom code, but it's quite simple:

dag.newVertex("stopword-source", StopwordsP::new);
private static class StopwordsP extends AbstractProcessor {
    public boolean complete() {
        return tryEmit(docLines("stopwords.txt").collect(toSet()));

Since this is a source processor, all its action happens in complete(). It emits a single item: the HashSet built directly from the text file's lines.

The doc-count processor can be built from the primitives provided in Jet's library:

dag.newVertex("doc-count", Processors.aggregate(counting()));

The doc-lines processor is more of a mouthful, but still built from existing primitives:

        Processors.flatMap((Entry<Long, String> e) ->
            traverseStream(docLines("books/" + e.getValue())
                           .map(line -> entry(e.getKey(), line))))));

Let's break down this expression... Processors.flatMap returns a standard processor that emits an arbitrary number of items for each received item. We already saw one in the introductory Word Count example. There we created a traverser from an array, here we create it from a Java stream. We additionally apply the nonCooperative() wrapper which will declare all the created processors non-cooperative. We already explained why we do this: this processor will make blocking I/O calls.

tokenizer is another custom vertex:

dag.newVertex("tokenize", TokenizeP::new);

private static class TokenizeP extends AbstractProcessor {
    private Set<String> stopwords;
    private final FlatMapper<Entry<Long, String>, Entry<Long, String>> flatMapper =
        flatMapper(e -> traverseStream(
                         .filter(word -> !stopwords.contains(word))
                         .map(word -> entry(e.getKey(), word))));

    protected boolean tryProcess0(@Nonnull Object item) {
        stopwords = (Set<String>) item;
        return true;

    protected boolean tryProcess1(@Nonnull Object item) {
        return flatMapper.tryProcess((Entry<Long, String>) item);

This is a processor that must deal with two different inbound edges. It receives the stopword set over edge 0 and then it does a flatmapping operation on edge 1. The logic presented here uses the same approach as the implementation of the provided Processors.flatMap() processor: there is a single instance of FlatMapper that holds the business logic of the transformation, and tryProcess1() directly delegates into it. If FlatMapper is done emitting the previous items, it will accept the new item, apply the user-provided transformation, and start emitting the output items. If the outbox refuses a pending item, it will return false, which will make the framework call the same tryProcess1() method later, with the same input item.

Let's show the code that creates the tokenize's two inbound edges:

dag.edge(between(stopwordSource, tokenize).broadcast().priority(-1))
   .edge(from(docLines).to(tokenize, 1));

Especially note the .priority(-1) part: this ensures that there will be no attempt to deliver any data coming from docLines before all the data from stopwordSource is already delivered. The processor would fail if it had to tokenize a line before it has its stopword set in place.

tf is another simple vertex, built purely from the provided primitives:

dag.newVertex("tf", Processors.aggregateByKey(wholeItem(), counting()));

tf-idf is the most complex processor:

dag.newVertex("tf-idf", TfIdfP::new);

private static class TfIdfP extends AbstractProcessor {
    private double logDocCount;

    private final Map<String, List<Entry<Long, Double>>> wordDocTf = new HashMap<>();
    private final Traverser<Entry<String, List<Entry<Long, Double>>>> invertedIndexTraverser =
            lazy(() -> traverseIterable(wordDocTf.entrySet()).map(this::toInvertedIndexEntry));

    protected boolean tryProcess0(@Nonnull Object item) throws Exception {
        logDocCount = Math.log((Long) item);
        return true;

    protected boolean tryProcess1(@Nonnull Object item) throws Exception {
        final Entry<Entry<Long, String>, Long> e = (Entry<Entry<Long, String>, Long>) item;
        final long docId = e.getKey().getKey();
        final String word = e.getKey().getValue();
        final long tf = e.getValue();
        wordDocTf.computeIfAbsent(word, w -> new ArrayList<>())
                 .add(entry(docId, (double) tf));
        return true;

    public boolean complete() {
        return emitFromTraverser(invertedIndexTraverser);

    private Entry<String, List<Entry<Long, Double>>> toInvertedIndexEntry(
            Entry<String, List<Entry<Long, Double>>> wordDocTf
    ) {
        final String word = wordDocTf.getKey();
        final List<Entry<Long, Double>> docidTfs = wordDocTf.getValue();
        return entry(word, docScores(docidTfs));

    private List<Entry<Long, Double>> docScores(List<Entry<Long, Double>> docidTfs) {
        final double logDf = Math.log(docidTfs.size());
                       .map(tfe -> tfidfEntry(logDf, tfe))

    private Entry<Long, Double> tfidfEntry(double logDf, Entry<Long, Double> docidTf) {
        final Long docId = docidTf.getKey();
        final double tf = docidTf.getValue();
        final double idf = logDocCount - logDf;
        return entry(docId, tf * idf);

This is quite a lot of code, but each of the three pieces is not too difficult to follow:

  1. tryProcess0() accepts a single item, the total document count.
  2. tryProcess1() performs a boilerplate groupBy operation, collecting a list of items under each key.
  3. complete() outputs the accumulated results, also applying the final transformation on each one: replacing the TF score with the final TF-IDF score. It relies on a lazy traverser, which holds a Supplier<Traverser> and will obtain the inner traverser from it the first time next() is called. This makes it very simple to write code that obtains a traverser from a map after it has been populated.

Finally, our DAG is terminated by a sink vertex:

dag.newVertex("sink", Processors.writeMap(INVERTED_INDEX));