PySpark Interview Questions and Answers for 2023 - Your Ultimate Guide with IQCode

H3 tag: PySpark Interview Questions for Freshers

Code tag:

PySpark is an interface of Apache Spark for Python programming language. It provides support for Spark SQL, Spark DataFrame, Spark Streaming, Spark Core and Spark MLlib, enabling the processing of semi-structured and structured datasets. PySpark offers optimized APIs to read data from multiple sources and process it. Python has a vast library collection to support big data processing and machine learning, making it a sought-after skillset. Apache Spark was originally written in Scala, but with PySpark, developers can leverage Python's robust libraries to process data efficiently. In this article, we will discuss the most frequently asked PySpark interview questions for both freshers and experienced professionals.

PySpark is an interface of Apache Spark for Python programming language, and it provides support for Spark SQL, Spark DataFrame, Spark Streaming, Spark Core and Spark MLlib. It enables the processing of semi-structured and structured datasets, offering optimized APIs that read data from multiple sources and process it. Python has a vast library collection to support big data processing and machine learning, making it a sought-after skillset. Originally written in Scala, Apache Spark can collaborate with Python's robust libraries to process data efficiently through PySpark. In this article, we will discuss the most frequently asked PySpark interview questions for freshers and experienced professionals.

Characteristics of PySpark

PySpark has the following characteristics:

  1. PySpark is a Python API for Apache Spark.
  2. It is easy to use and integrates well with other Python libraries.
  3. PySpark provides high-level APIs for distributed computing on large datasets.
  4. It has built-in modules for processing data in various formats such as CSV, JSON, and Parquet.
  5. PySpark allows users to write code in Python instead of Scala, making it more accessible to data scientists and analysts who are familiar with Python.
  6. PySpark provides support for machine learning algorithms such as classification, regression, and clustering.

Overall, PySpark is a powerful tool for working with large datasets and performing distributed computing tasks in a Python environment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of PySpark

PySpark is a powerful tool for working with big data and parallel processing. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of using PySpark:


  • Speed: PySpark is much faster than traditional Python for data processing due to its distributed computing model.
  • Scalability: PySpark can easily handle big data processing tasks by distributing the processing across multiple nodes in a cluster.
  • Easy to use: PySpark has a user-friendly interface and allows users to write code in Python, which is a popular language among data scientists and developers.
  • Built-in libraries: PySpark comes with many built-in libraries, such as MLlib for machine learning and GraphX for graph processing, which can save time and effort for data processing tasks.


  • Steep learning curve: PySpark can be difficult to learn for users who are not familiar with distributed computing or parallel processing.
  • Resource-intensive: PySpark requires substantial resources to run, such as high-end hardware and a large amount of memory and storage.
  • Debugging: Debugging PySpark code can be challenging due to the distributed nature of processing.
Overall, PySpark is a powerful tool for big data processing, but it requires knowledge and resources to use effectively.

What is PySpark SparkContext?

PySpark SparkContext is a programming interface that enables the creation of Spark applications using Python. It establishes a connection between the Spark cluster and Python application, allowing the application to contextually access Spark services. With PySpark SparkContext, developers can parallelize computation on large datasets, which is crucial for big data processing. 

Reasons for using PySpark SparkFiles

PySpark SparkFiles are useful for several reasons:

  1. They allow for the distribution of additional files, such as third-party libraries, to the Spark cluster, making them available for use in PySpark jobs.
  2. They make it easier to manage and specify file paths within PySpark applications.
  3. They provide a mechanism for accessing files from non-Python languages, which is especially important in mixed-language Spark environments.

Here is an example of how to use PySpark SparkFiles:

from pyspark import SparkContext, SparkFiles

# create Spark context
sc = SparkContext("local", "example")

# add file to be distributed to Spark workers

# access file from Spark worker
with open(SparkFiles.get("file")) as f:
    data =

Understanding PySpark Serializers

PySpark serializers are tools that convert data objects into a format that can be stored or transmitted over a network. These are particularly useful in PySpark because they allow for efficient communication between the Python driver program and distributed worker nodes.

PySpark supports different serializers such as the default Python Pickle, Java serializer, JSON, and others. By default, PySpark uses the Pickle serializer, which is compatible with most Python objects. However, it may not always be the most efficient serializer for a particular use case, so it's essential to understand the trade-offs and choose the appropriate one.

In summary, PySpark serializers are essential components when working with distributed data processing frameworks like PySpark, as they enable the efficient transmission and storage of data objects in a scalable manner.

Understanding RDDs in PySpark

RDDs (Resilient Distributed Datasets) are the fundamental data structure in PySpark that represent immutable, fault-tolerant, distributed collections of objects. Each RDD is split into multiple partitions, which can be processed in parallel across various nodes in a cluster.

RDDs can be created by reading data from external storage systems such as HDFS, Amazon S3, and local file systems. They can also be created by transforming existing RDDs through various transformations such as map, filter, and groupByKey.

RDDs in PySpark are lazily evaluated, which means that transformations on RDDs are only executed when an action is called. Examples of actions include count, reduce, collect, take, and save.

RDDs are the backbone of PySpark and are utilized extensively for various applications such as distributed data processing, machine learning, and streaming. Understanding RDDs is crucial for any PySpark developer.

Does PySpark offer a Machine Learning API?

Yes, PySpark provides a Machine Learning API that includes various algorithms and tools for implementing machine learning models. This API is called "MLlib" and it offers support for various tasks such as classification, regression, clustering, and collaborative filtering. With MLlib, users can easily build scalable and efficient machine learning models in Python.

PySpark Supported Cluster Manager Types

PySpark supports different cluster manager types:

Standalone Manager, Apache Mesos, Hadoop YARN

Each of these cluster managers has its own set of advantages and use cases. It's important to choose the one that best fits your organization's needs and infrastructure.

Advantages of Pyspark RDD

Pyspark RDD (Resilient Distributed Datasets) offers several advantages that make it a popular choice among data scientists and developers:

  1. Resilience: RDDs are fault-tolerant and can recover from node failures, ensuring that data processing is performed reliably.
  2. Parallelism: RDDs support parallel operations, enabling faster processing of large datasets by utilizing a cluster of nodes.
  3. Memory Management: Pyspark RDD enables memory management to store intermediate results in memory leading to faster computations.
  4. Immutable and Lazy Evaluation: RDDs support immutable and lazy evaluation of transformations, which helps in optimizing the execution process and is memory efficient.
  5. Interoperability: Pyspark RDD integrates with other popular data sources, making it easy to use with various data formats and sources.

Overall, Pyspark RDD provides high-level abstractions for data processing and makes big data analytics simpler and more efficient.

Is PySpark faster than Pandas?

PySpark is generally faster than Pandas when it comes to handling large datasets in a distributed environment. Since PySpark runs computations in parallel across multiple worker nodes, it can handle bigger datasets than Pandas which is limited to a single machine. However, for smaller datasets that fit in memory, Pandas can often perform faster than PySpark due to the overhead of distributing the computation. Ultimately, the choice between PySpark and Pandas depends on the specific use case and the size of the dataset being handled.

Understanding PySpark DataFrames

PySpark DataFrames are distributed and immutable collections of data with schema that represent tables in a relational database. They provide efficient and scalable processing of large datasets by allowing parallel processing in a distributed computing environment. PySpark DataFrames support a variety of operations such as filtering, aggregating, joining, and selecting data. They can be created from various data sources including CSV, JSON, and Parquet files, Hive tables, and SQL databases. PySpark DataFrames are an important component of data processing using Spark and are widely used for data analysis, machine learning, and other big data applications.

SparkSession in PySpark

In PySpark, SparkSession is the entry point to any Spark functionality. It allows to work with distributed data and provides a way to interact with Spark through a single, unified interface. SparkSession encapsulates the functionality provided by SparkContext, SQLContext, and StreamingContext into one object. With SparkSession, one can create a DataFrame, register it as a temporary table, and perform SQL operations on it, among other things. It also enables to read data from various structured sources such as JSON, Avro, and Parquet.H3. Types of Shared Variables in PySpark and Their Significance

PySpark offers two types of shared variables: broadcast variables and accumulators. These variables are useful in distributed computing scenarios, where a single task is executed across multiple nodes.

Broadcast variables are read-only variables that are cached on each worker node, allowing for efficient sharing of large datasets across the network. This helps to reduce network usage and speeds up execution times.

Accumulators, on the other hand, are writable variables that can be used to store results of computations across multiple tasks. They are particularly useful for keeping count of events or aggregating data in parallel across the network.

Overall, shared variables in PySpark can significantly improve the performance of distributed computing tasks by reducing data transfer overhead and enabling efficient aggregation of results.

PySpark User-Defined Function (UDF)

PySpark User-Defined Functions (UDFs) are functions that are defined by the user and used in PySpark to apply logic to the data. They are used to process or transform data that is stored in PySpark RDDs (Resilient Distributed Datasets) and DataFrames by applying custom operations.

What are the Industrial Benefits of PySpark?

PySpark has several industrial benefits that make it a popular choice for data processing and analysis tasks. Some of these benefits include:

  • Scalability: PySpark is highly scalable and can handle large datasets that are beyond the capabilities of traditional data processing tools.
  • Flexibility: PySpark supports multiple programming languages including Python, Scala, Java, and R, making it a flexible choice for data processing tasks.
  • Performance: PySpark uses in-memory processing, which results in faster processing times and improved performance.
  • Ease of use: PySpark has a user-friendly interface and is easy to use, even for those who are not proficient in programming.
  • Real-time processing: PySpark can process data in real-time, making it useful for applications that require near-instantaneous results.
  • Integration with other tools: PySpark can be integrated with other tools and frameworks such as Hadoop, Cassandra, and Kafka, making it a versatile choice for data processing and analysis tasks.

Overall, PySpark is a powerful tool that offers several benefits for data processing and analysis tasks. Its scalability, flexibility, and performance make it an ideal choice for big data applications in various industries.

Pyspark Architecture Explanation for Experienced Professionals

Pyspark architecture is a distributed computing framework that is built on top of the Apache Spark framework. It allows developers to write Spark applications in Python. It has several components such as:

  • Spark Drivers: The main function of Spark driver is to provide the SparkContext object to the user program and manage the execution of tasks on the cluster nodes. It is responsible for scheduling, distributing, and monitoring the tasks.

  • Spark Executors: Spark Executors are responsible for executing the tasks that are assigned to them by the Spark driver. Executors are started at the beginning of the Spark application and run until the application terminates. Executors perform computations and store data in memory or on disk.

  • Cluster Manager: Pyspark supports different cluster managers like Apache Mesos, Hadoop YARN, and Standalone. The cluster manager is responsible for managing the resources of the physical cluster and scheduling tasks on the nodes.

  • Worker Nodes: Worker nodes are the compute nodes where the tasks are executed. They communicate with the Spark driver and receive the tasks to be executed.

  • Data Sources: PySpark supports various data sources such as HDFS, Hive, JSON, and Cassandra, etc. Data sources are used to read and write data from and to external storage systems.

Overall, Pyspark architecture is designed for parallel and distributed processing of large-scale data sets across clusters of computers.

What is PySpark DAGScheduler?

PySpark DAGScheduler is a scheduling module in Apache Spark that manages task scheduling in a distributed computing environment. It is responsible for creating and scheduling stages of tasks that need to be executed in parallel across different nodes in a Spark cluster.

The DAGScheduler divides the entire Spark job into smaller stages of tasks based on their dependencies. It then schedules these stages for execution to optimize the utilization of available resources and minimize job completion time.

PySpark DAGScheduler also handles failures and retries of tasks and ensures that the tasks are executed on the same node where the data is stored to minimize data transfer and improve performance.

# Example code snippet using DAGScheduler in PySpark

from pyspark import SparkConf, SparkContext
from pyspark.rdd import RDD

conf = SparkConf().setAppName("DAGSchedulerExample").setMaster("local")
sc = SparkContext(conf=conf)

# create an RDD with some data
data = sc.parallelize(range(1000))

# apply map operation to double each element of the RDD
mapped_data = x: x*2)

# apply filter operation to filter out elements less than 2000
filtered_data = mapped_data.filter(lambda x: x > 2000)

# count the number of elements
count = filtered_data.count()

print("Number of elements: ", count)

Common Workflow of a Spark Program

A Spark program typically follows the following workflow:

1. Create a SparkSession object<br>
2. Load the input data into a Spark RDD using SparkContext<br>
3. Transform the RDD data using operations such as filter(), map(), reduceByKey(), etc.<br>
4. Apply actions such as count(), collect(), saveAsTextFile(), etc. to the transformed data.<br>
5. Stop the SparkSession

The input data can be loaded from various sources such as HDFS, local file system, and databases. Similarly, the transformed data can be saved to various destinations such as HDFS, local file system, and databases.

Usage of SparkConf in PySpark

In PySpark, SparkConf is used for configuring Spark settings. It allows setting various parameters related to Spark such as the application name, master URL, Spark UI port, and others. By default, PySpark uses some default settings, however, with SparkConf we can set our custom settings for our specific use case. For example, to set a custom application name, we can create a SparkConf object and set the "" property to our desired name. Then we can pass this SparkConf object to the SparkSession.builder.config() method to configure the SparkSession.

Creating a PySpark UDF

In PySpark, you can create User-Defined Functions (UDFs) to apply custom logic to your data. Here's an example of how to create a PySpark UDF:

from pyspark.sql.functions import udf
from pyspark.sql.types import StringType

# Define the function
def my_function(input_str):
    # Add custom logic here
    return input_str.upper()

# Register the UDF
my_udf = udf(my_function, StringType())

# Apply the UDF to the DataFrame
new_df = old_df.withColumn("output_col", my_udf(old_df.input_col))

In the example above, we first import the `udf` and `StringType` classes from the `pyspark.sql.functions` and `pyspark.sql.types` modules, respectively. Then we define our custom function `my_function` that takes an input string and returns the uppercase version of that string.

Next, we register our function as a UDF using the `udf` class and `StringType` as the return type. Finally, we apply the UDF to a DataFrame by using the `withColumn` method and passing in the input column and the name of the output column.

That's it! You can now use your PySpark UDF to apply custom logic to your data.

Profiling in PySpark

Profiling in PySpark is the process of analyzing code performance in order to identify and optimize slow running code. PySpark provides various profilers to measure the execution time of the RDD operations. These profilers help in identifying the bottleneck or the slowest part of the code and thus, optimizing the code performance.

Creating a SparkSession in Scala

To create a SparkSession in Scala, you need to import the required libraries and then create an instance of SparkSession using the builder pattern.

//importing necessary libraries import org.apache.spark.sql.SparkSession

//creating a SparkSession val spark = SparkSession .builder() .appName("YourApp") .config("spark.some.config.option", "some-value") .getOrCreate()

The appName() method sets the name of the Spark application, while the config() method allows you to specify any non-default configuration settings.

Once you have created the SparkSession, you can start using Spark to process data.

Different Approaches for Creating RDD in PySpark

PySpark provides three ways to create RDDs (Resilient Distributed Datasets):

1. Parallelizing an existing collection in your driver program 2. Referencing a dataset in an external storage system (such as HDFS, HBase, or local file system) 3. Creating RDDs from already existing RDDs through transformations.

For example, you could create a new RDD by applying a transformation such as map() or filter() to an existing RDD.

Here's an example of parallelizing an existing collection in your driver program:

from pyspark import SparkContext

sc = SparkContext("local", "First App")
data = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
distData = sc.parallelize(data)

This code creates a local SparkContext with the name "First App" and then creates an RDD named distData by parallelizing a list of integers.

Here's an example of referencing a dataset in HDFS:

from pyspark import SparkContext

sc = SparkContext("local", "Second App")
distFile = sc.textFile("/path/to/data.txt")

This code creates a local SparkContext with the name "Second App" and then creates an RDD named distFile by referencing a file in HDFS.

Here's an example of creating an RDD from an already existing RDD:

from pyspark import SparkContext

sc = SparkContext("local", "Third App")
data = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
distData = sc.parallelize(data)
newData = x: x * 2)

This code creates an RDD named newData by applying a transformation to an existing RDD named distData. The transformation doubles each value in the RDD.

Creating DataFrames in PySpark

In PySpark, we can create DataFrames using various methods such as reading data from external sources like CSV, JSON, and databases, or by converting RDDs (Resilient Distributed Datasets) to DataFrames.

Here is an example of creating a DataFrame from a list of tuples using the `createDataFrame()` method:

# import PySpark
from pyspark.sql import SparkSession
from pyspark.sql.types import StructType, StructField, IntegerType, StringType

# create SparkSession
spark = SparkSession.builder.appName("CreateDataFrame").getOrCreate()

# define schema for DataFrame
schema = StructType([
  StructField("id", IntegerType(), True),
  StructField("name", StringType(), True),
  StructField("age", IntegerType(), True)

# create list of tuples
data = [(1, "John", 30),
        (2, "Jane", 25),
        (3, "Bob", 35)]

# create DataFrame from list of tuples and schema
df = spark.createDataFrame(data, schema)

# show DataFrame

This code creates a SparkSession, defines a schema for the DataFrame, creates a list of tuples, and then creates the DataFrame using the `createDataFrame()` method. Finally, it displays the contents of the DataFrame using the `show()` method.

Creating a PySpark DataFrame from External Data Sources

Yes, it is possible to create a PySpark DataFrame from external data sources. PySpark provides APIs for reading data from various sources such as CSV, JSON, Parquet, Avro, ORC, JDBC, and more.

To create a PySpark DataFrame from an external data source, you need to first specify the data source type and its file path or connection details. For example, to read a CSV file, you can use the following code:

from pyspark.sql import SparkSession

spark = SparkSession.builder.appName("Read CSV").getOrCreate()

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

In this code, we first import the SparkSession class from the `pyspark.sql` module. Then, we create a SparkSession object and specify an app name for our Spark application.

Next, we use the `` method to read data from a CSV file located at the given file path. We also specify the `header` and `inferSchema` options to use the first row as column names and automatically infer column data types, respectively.

Finally, we call the `show` method on our DataFrame to display its contents.

Similarly, you can use other data source APIs provided by PySpark to create DataFrames from different types of external data sources.

Understanding the startswith() and endswith() methods in PySpark

In PySpark, the startswith() method checks if a string begins with a specified substring, while the endswith() method checks if a string ends with a specified substring. These methods return a Boolean value of true if the respective conditions are met, and false otherwise.

For example, consider the following code snippet:

string1 = "Hello World"
print(string1.startswith("Hello"))  # Output: True
print(string1.endswith("World"))  # Output: True
print(string1.startswith("World"))  # Output: False
print(string1.endswith("Hello"))  # Output: False

Here, startswith() returns True because string1 begins with "Hello" and endswith() returns True because string1 ends with "World". However, in the third and fourth print statements, startswith() and endswith() return False because string1 does not begin with "World" and does not end with "Hello".

These methods are useful for filtering and manipulating data in PySpark when working with strings.

PySpark SQL

PySpark SQL is a module within PySpark that provides a programming interface to work with structured data using SQL queries. It allows users to perform data analysis, manipulation, and querying using SQL commands. This module is built on top of the Spark SQL engine, which is optimized for querying massive datasets distributed across multiple nodes. PySpark SQL also enables integration with other data sources such as Hive, JDBC, Parquet, and Avro, making it a powerful tool for big data processing.

Inner Joining Two Dataframes

To inner join two dataframes in Python, you can use the `merge()` function from the pandas library. The function takes two dataframes as input and returns a new dataframe with rows that have matching values in both the dataframes based on the specified column(s).

Here's an example of how to inner join two dataframes (`df1` and `df2`) based on the `id` column:

import pandas as pd

df1 = pd.DataFrame({'id': [1, 2, 3], 'name': ['John', 'Mary', 'Joe']})
df2 = pd.DataFrame({'id': [2, 3, 4], 'age': [25, 30, 35]})

merged_df = pd.merge(df1, df2, on='id', how='inner')

In this example, the `merge()` function is used to join the `df1` and `df2` dataframes based on the `id` column. The `how` parameter is set to `'inner'` to return only rows that have matching values in both dataframes. The resulting `merged_df` dataframe will contain only the rows with `id` values 2 and 3 because those are the only values that appear in both input dataframes.

Understanding PySpark Streaming and Streaming Data using TCP/IP Protocol

PySpark Streaming is an extension of the core Apache Spark API that enables real-time processing of streaming data from various sources such as Kafka, Flume, HDFS, etc.

To stream data using TCP/IP protocol, we need to first create a socket object using `socket()` function, which takes two parameters - the first parameter is the type of the network, which is AF_INET for IPv4 or AF_INET6 for IPv6, and the second parameter is the type of the socket, which is SOCK_STREAM for TCP/IP.

We then bind the socket to a host and port using the `bind()` method and make the socket listen for incoming connections using the `listen()` method.

After the socket is set up and listening, we can use a while loop to continuously accept incoming connections using the `accept()` method. Once the connection is established, we can receive data from the client using the `recv()` method.

An example code snippet for streaming data using TCP/IP protocol is given below:

import socket

# create a socket object
s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)

# bind the socket to a host and port
s.bind(('localhost', 9999))

# listen for incoming connections

# accept incoming connections
client, address = s.accept()

# receive data from client
data = client.recv(1024)

# print received data

# close connection

This code creates a socket object and binds it to localhost on port 9999. It then listens for incoming connections and accepts incoming connections. Once a connection is established, it receives data from the client and prints it. Finally, it closes the connection.

Effects of Losing RDD Partitions due to Worker Node Failure

In the case of worker node failure, RDD partitions stored on that particular node will be lost. This can cause a significant impact on the job performance, as the lost data will need to be recomputed from the source data. The effects of losing RDD partitions depend on the application and the type of RDDs used. In some cases, the application may be able to tolerate the loss of data and continue functioning, while in other cases, the lost data may cause the application to fail. To handle such scenarios, it is essential to have fault-tolerant mechanisms such as replication and checkpoints.

Technical Interview Guides

Here are guides for technical interviews, categorized from introductory to advanced levels.

View All

Best MCQ

As part of their written examination, numerous tech companies necessitate candidates to complete multiple-choice questions (MCQs) assessing their technical aptitude.

View MCQ's
Made with love
This website uses cookies to make IQCode work for you. By using this site, you agree to our cookie policy

Welcome Back!

Sign up to unlock all of IQCode features:
  • Test your skills and track progress
  • Engage in comprehensive interactive courses
  • Commit to daily skill-enhancing challenges
  • Solve practical, real-world issues
  • Share your insights and learnings
Create an account
Sign in
Recover lost password
Or log in with

Create a Free Account

Sign up to unlock all of IQCode features:
  • Test your skills and track progress
  • Engage in comprehensive interactive courses
  • Commit to daily skill-enhancing challenges
  • Solve practical, real-world issues
  • Share your insights and learnings
Create an account
Sign up
Or sign up with
By signing up, you agree to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive product-related marketing emails from IQCode, which you can unsubscribe from at any time.