How to fix Hive table partioning

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In this article I show how you can fix partition tables in hive. Partitioning tables is the best practice on distributed systems, in particular for large datasets. On HDFS For example, a 1280MB large data set is automatically split in ten files of 128MB, in order to ease the process of parallelization. If you expose such a data set as a table on Hive, in order to be able to query it, the underlying algorithm will have to read in all ten files to do the computation you asked for. Consider the following query:

FROM mydb.country_table
WHERE region='ASIA'

In such a query, all files will first be scanned and filtered for continent='ASIA'. It would be much more efficient if we knew in advance whether any given file contains any such records. Table partioning achieves exactly that. You can use Hive to directly create a partitioned table from another existing table for example.

However, sometimes the underlying data might not be available as a table, but is simply written to HDFS from an external source. Consider the following minimal example:

├── continent='ASIA'
│   ├── 0bac803e32dc42ae83fddfd029cbdebc.parquet
│   └── ...
├── continent='EUROPE'
│   ├── e6ab24a4f45147b49b54a662f0c412a3.parquet
│   └── ...
└── ...

The data is stored in ‘subfolders’ that will allow Hive to understand these as partitions (e.g. from python pandas you could create such a structure using df.to_parquet(path='...\country_table', partition_cols=['continent']).

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE mydb.country_table
-- below specify the HDFS path to any file to infer the schema
LIKE PARQUET '/.../.../country_table/continent=ASIA/0bac803e32dc42ae83fddfd029cbdebc.parquet'
-- this is where the magic happens: We partition the table!
LOCATION '/.../.../country_table'

If you are on this page you likely have experienced yourself that this does not work. While the table meta data is available for some reason it does not return any data when queried:

This is because Hive needs to update its metadata (good read for the details here). Luckily there is a simple fix:

MSCK REPAIR TABLE mydb.country_table

After which you should update the table meta data:

INVALIDATE METADATA mydb.country_table
Jannic Alexander Cutura
Jannic Alexander Cutura
Software ∪ Data Engineer

My interests include distributed computing and cloud as well as financial stability and regulation.