Master LLMs with our FREE course in collaboration with Activeloop & Intel Disruptor Initiative. Join now!


PySpark for Data Scientists a New Way Out
Latest   Machine Learning

PySpark for Data Scientists a New Way Out

Last Updated on July 25, 2023 by Editorial Team

Author(s): Akshith Kumar

Originally published on Towards AI.

New way out to work on large data for data science projects.

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash


As big data becomes more prevalent in today’s world, data scientists need to be able to analyze and manipulate large data sets efficiently. This is where PySpark comes in. PySpark is a Python library that allows data scientists to work with large data sets using the distributed computing power of Apache Spark. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits and features of PySpark for data science.

Distributed Computing Power

PySpark uses the distributed computing power of Apache Spark to process large data sets. This means that PySpark can run computations across a cluster of computers, making it much faster than traditional data processing methods. This is particularly useful when working with large data sets that cannot be processed on a single machine. PySpark also supports parallel computing, which allows data scientists to split up tasks and run them simultaneously, further speeding up data processing.

Easy Integration with Python

One of the biggest benefits of PySpark is its seamless integration with Python. Data scientists can use Python’s powerful libraries, such as NumPy and Pandas, to manipulate data within PySpark. This makes it easy for data scientists to transition from working with smaller data sets in Python to working with large data sets in PySpark. Additionally, PySpark supports other programming languages, such as Java and Scala, making it a versatile tool for data scientists with different programming backgrounds.

Here’s an example of using PySpark to read a CSV file and convert it to a DataFrame:

from pyspark.sql import SparkSession

spark = SparkSession.builder.appName("CSV to DataFrame").getOrCreate()

df ="path/to/file.csv", header=True, inferSchema=True)

Machine Learning Capabilities

PySpark also offers machine learning capabilities through its MLlib library. This library includes a wide range of machine learning algorithms, such as k-means clustering and decision trees, that can be used to analyze and model data sets. The algorithms in MLlib are designed to work with large data sets, making it a powerful tool for data scientists working with big data. PySpark also supports other machine learning libraries, such as TensorFlow and Keras, making it a flexible and adaptable tool for machine learning.

Applications of PySpark in Data Science

PySpark can be applied in a variety of data science use cases. One such use case is in fraud detection, where data scientists can use PySpark’s machine learning capabilities to detect fraudulent transactions in large data sets. Another use case is in recommendation systems, where data scientists can use PySpark to build personalized recommendation systems based on user behavior and preferences. PySpark can also be used in natural language processing, where large amounts of textual data can be processed and analyzed at scale.

Short example of using PySpark in a Data Science Project:

Customer Reviews

let’s dive a bit deeper into this example project.

Step 1: Data Preparation

In this step, we import the customer review dataset into PySpark. The dataset is a CSV file with two columns: the review text and the review rating. We use PySpark’s built-in functions to read the CSV file and create a DataFrame.

from pyspark.sql import SparkSession

spark = SparkSession.builder.appName("Customer Reviews").getOrCreate()

df ="path/to/customer_reviews.csv", header=True,

Step 2: Sentiment Analysis

In this step, we perform sentiment analysis on the customer reviews using PySpark’s MLlib library. We use the NaiveBayes classifier to classify each review as either positive or negative.

First, we tokenize the review text using PySpark’s Tokenizer function. This splits the text into individual words and creates a new column in the DataFrame with the tokenized words.

from import Tokenizer

tokenizer = Tokenizer(inputCol="review_text", outputCol="words")
df = tokenizer.transform(df)py

Next, we remove stop words from the tokenized words using PySpark’s StopWordsRemover function. Stop words are common words that do not carry much meaning, such as "the" and "and". Removing stop words helps to focus on the more meaningful words in the text.

from import StopWordsRemover

stop_words_remover = StopWordsRemover(inputCol=tokenizer.getOutputCol(),

df = stop_words_remover.transform(df)

After removing stop words, we convert the filtered words into numerical features using PySpark’s HashingTF function. This converts each word into a numerical index, and creates a sparse vector of indices and counts for each review.

from import HashingTF

hashing_tf = HashingTF(inputCol=stop_words_remover.getOutputCol(),

df = hashing_tf.transform(df)

Finally, we normalize the features using PySpark’s IDF function. This down-weights features that frequently appear across all reviews, as they are less informative than features that appear in only a few reviews.

from import IDF

idf = IDF(inputCol=hashing_tf.getOutputCol(), outputCol="features")

df =

Now that we have transformed the text data into numerical features, we can train a machine-learning model to classify the reviews as positive or negative.

from import NaiveBayes

nb = NaiveBayes()

model =

We can evaluate the performance of the model using PySpark’s BinaryClassificationEvaluator function.

from import BinaryClassificationEvaluator

evaluator = BinaryClassificationEvaluator(rawPredictionCol="rawPrediction")

accuracy = evaluator.evaluate(predictions)

Step 3: Identifying Common Themes and Issues

In this step, we use PySpark to identify common themes and issues mentioned in the customer reviews. We group the reviews by topic using PySpark’s built-in functions and then count the number of reviews in each group.

from pyspark.sql.functions import desc


This will give us a list of the most common themes and issues mentioned in the customer reviews, which we can use to improve the company’s products and services.

By using PySpark for this project, we are able to perform sentiment analysis and identify common themes and issues in large customer review datasets with ease. With its distributed computing power, easy integration with Python, and machine learning capabilities, PySpark is a powerful tool for analyzing and manipulating large data sets in data science projects.


PySpark is a powerful tool for data scientists working with big data. Its distributed computing power, easy integration with Python, and machine learning capabilities make it a versatile and efficient tool for analyzing and manipulating large data sets. As big data becomes more prevalent and complex, PySpark will become an increasingly important tool for data scientists. By leveraging the capabilities of PySpark, data scientists can unlock insights and value from large data sets that were previously impossible to process and analyze.

Thank you for your time, Hope you like it.

Join thousands of data leaders on the AI newsletter. Join over 80,000 subscribers and keep up to date with the latest developments in AI. From research to projects and ideas. If you are building an AI startup, an AI-related product, or a service, we invite you to consider becoming a sponsor.

Published via Towards AI

Feedback ↓