Apache SystemDS
Developer(s)Apache Software Foundation, IBM
Initial releaseNovember 2, 2015; 6 years ago (2015-11-02)
Stable release
2.2.1 / December 1, 2021; 4 months ago (2021-12-01)
RepositorySystemDS Repository
Written inJava, Python, DML, C
Operating systemLinux, macOS, Windows
TypeMachine Learning, Deep Learning, Data Science
LicenseApache License 2.0

Apache SystemDS (Previously, Apache SystemML) is an open source ML system for the end-to-end data science lifecycle.

SystemDS's distinguishing characteristics are:

  1. Algorithm customizability via R-like and Python-like languages.
  2. Multiple execution modes, including Standalone, Spark Batch, Spark MLContext, Hadoop Batch, and JMLC.
  3. Automatic optimization based on data and cluster characteristics to ensure both efficiency and scalability.


SystemML was created in 2010 by researchers at the IBM Almaden Research Center led by IBM Fellow Shivakumar Vaithyanathan. It was observed that data scientists would write machine learning algorithms in languages such as R and Python for small data. When it came time to scale to big data, a systems programmer would be needed to scale the algorithm in a language such as Scala. This process typically involved days or weeks per iteration, and errors would occur translating the algorithms to operate on big data. SystemML seeks to simplify this process. A primary goal of SystemML is to automatically scale an algorithm written in an R-like or Python-like language to operate on big data, generating the same answer without the error-prone, multi-iterative translation approach.

On June 15, 2015, at the Spark Summit in San Francisco, Beth Smith, General Manager of IBM Analytics, announced that IBM was open-sourcing SystemML as part of IBM's major commitment to Apache Spark and Spark-related projects. SystemML became publicly available on GitHub on August 27, 2015 and became an Apache Incubator project on November 2, 2015. On May 17, 2017, the Apache Software Foundation Board approved the graduation of Apache SystemML as an Apache Top Level Project.

Key technologies

The following are some of the technologies built into the SystemDS engine.


Principal Component Analysis

The following code snippet[1] does the Principal component analysis of input matrix , which returns the and the .

# PCA.dml
# Refer: https://github.com/apache/systemds/blob/master/scripts/algorithms/PCA.dml#L61

N = nrow(A);
D = ncol(A);

# perform z-scoring (centering and scaling)
A = scale(A, center==1, scale==1);

# co-variance matrix 
mu = colSums(A)/N;
C = (t(A) %*% A)/(N-1) - (N/(N-1))*t(mu) %*% mu;

# compute eigen vectors and values
[evalues, evectors] = eigen(C);

Invocation script

spark-submit SystemDS.jar -f PCA.dml -nvargs INPUT=INPUT_DIR/pca-1000x1000 \

Database functions

DBSCAN clustering algorithm with Euclidean distance.

X = rand(rows=1780, cols=180, min=1, max=20) 
[indices, model] = dbscan(X = X, eps = 2.5, minPts = 360)


SystemDS 2.0.0 is the first major release under the new name. This release contains a major refactoring, a few major features, a large number of improvements and fixes, and some experimental features to better support the end-to-end data science lifecycle. In addition to that, this release also removes several features that are not up date and outdated.



Apache SystemDS welcomes contributions in code, question and answer, community building, or spreading the word. The contributor guide is available at https://github.com/apache/systemds/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md

See also


  1. ^ Apache SystemDS, The Apache Software Foundation, 2022-02-24, retrieved 2022-03-06
  2. ^ SystemDS, Apache. "SystemML 1.2.0 Release Notes". systemds.apache.org. Retrieved 2021-02-26.