As mentioned in the Work_with_Jet chapter, 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 overall performance. Hazelcast Jet takes a simple approach and strictly triages stream items into "still on time" and "late", discarding the latter.
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 watermark value.
Predefined watermark policies
We provide some general, data-agnostic watermark policies in the
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
"With Fixed Lag"
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
eventTimestamp - lag. This puts a limit on the spread
between timestamps in the stream: all events whose timestamp is more than
lag behind the highest timestamp are considered late.
"Limiting Lag and Delay"
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
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"
policy is similar to
limitingLagAndDelay in addressing 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"
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 issue with
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).
is 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
which suppresses watermark items until the watermark has advanced at least
minStep ahead of the previously emitted one.