I've been struggling with org.apache.spark.SparkException: Task not serializable but finally figured out how to make this work:

case class Article(id: Int, title: String, content: String) extends Serializable

 val index: RDD[(String, List[(Int, Int)])] = (for {
      article <- articlesRDD
      text = article.title + article.content
      word <- text.split(" ")
    } yield (word, (article.id, 1)))
        _.map {
          case(k, v) => (k, v.groupBy(_._1).map(pair => (pair._1, pair._2.map(_._2).sum)).toList) // Works as expected
          //case(k, v) => (k, reducer(v.toList)) // Fails

And here is reducer:

def reducer(list: List[(Int, Int)]): List[(Int, Int)] = {
      pair => (pair._1, pair._2.map(_._2).sum)

I also tried defining the reducer function as a val but I'm getting the same error. Actually, the error occurs in a Databricks notebook, in my machine running Spark in local mode it works fine.

Why does the commented case statement fail ? Do I have to pass anonymous functions always even if they are not as trivial as my reducer function ?

Thanks in advance :)


You don't say where reducer is defined, but it's likely to be in a non-serializable class (e.g. the one containing SparkContext etc.). Then using it requires capturing the instance it's called on. Define it in an object instead.

From the Spark Programming Guide:

Spark’s API relies heavily on passing functions in the driver program to run on the cluster. There are two recommended ways to do this:

  • Anonymous function syntax, which can be used for short pieces of code.
  • Static methods in a global singleton object. For example, you can define object MyFunctions and then pass MyFunctions.func1, as follows:

    object MyFunctions {
      def func1(s: String): String = { ... }

Note that while it is also possible to pass a reference to a method in a class instance (as opposed to a singleton object), this requires sending the object that contains that class along with the method.

  • Actually, the error occurs in a Databricks notebook. In my machine running Spark in local mode it works fine. I'm sorry. Forgot adding that little detail. – Ronald CardonaMartínez Apr 16 at 13:50

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