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First appeared2003; 20 years ago (2003)
LicenseApache License 2.0

Sawzall is a procedural domain-specific programming language, used by Google to process large numbers of individual log records. Sawzall was first described in 2003,[1] and the szl runtime was open-sourced in August 2010.[2] However, since the MapReduce table aggregators have not been released,[3] the open-sourced runtime is not useful for large-scale data analysis of multiple log files off the shelf. Sawzall has been replaced by Lingo (logs in Go) for most purposes within Google.[4]


Google's server logs are stored as large collections of records (Protocol Buffers) that are partitioned over many disks within GFS. In order to perform calculations involving the logs, engineers can write MapReduce programs in C++ or Java. MapReduce programs need to be compiled and may be more verbose than necessary, so writing a program to analyze the logs can be time-consuming. To make it easier to write quick scripts, Rob Pike et al. developed the Sawzall language. A Sawzall script runs within the Map phase of a MapReduce and "emits" values to tables. Then the Reduce phase (which the script writer does not have to be concerned about) aggregates the tables from multiple runs into a single set of tables.

Currently, only the language runtime (which runs a Sawzall script once over a single input) has been open-sourced; the supporting program built on MapReduce has not been released.[3]


Some interesting features include:

Sawzall's design favors efficiency and engine simplicity over power:

Sawzall code

This complete Sawzall program will read the input and produce three results: the number of records, the sum of the values, and the sum of the squares of the values.

count: table sum of int;
total: table sum of float;
sum_of_squares: table sum of float;
x: float = input;
emit count <- 1;
emit total <- x;
emit sum_of_squares <- x * x;

See also


  1. ^ Rob Pike, Sean Dorward, Robert Griesemer, Sean Quinlan. Interpreting the Data: Parallel Analysis with Sawzall
  2. ^ Sawzall's open source project at Google Code.
  3. ^ a b Discussion on which parts of Sawzall are open-source.
  4. ^ "Replacing Sawzall". 2015-12-04. Retrieved 2018-06-18.

Further reading