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Implementing Apache Spark K-Means Clustering method on digital breath test data for road safety

Red light for cyclists
6 min read

[box type=”note” align=”” class=”” width=””]This article is an excerpt taken from a book Mastering Apache Spark 2.x – Second Edition written by Romeo Kienzler. In this book, you will learn to use Spark as a big data operating system, understand how to implement advanced analytics on the new APIs, and explore how easy it is to use Spark in day-to-day tasks.[/box]

In today’s tutorial, we have used the Road Safety test data from our previous article, to show how one can attempt to find clusters in data using K-Means algorithm with Apache Spark MLlib.

Theory on Clustering

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The K-Means algorithm iteratively attempts to determine clusters within the test data by minimizing the distance between the mean value of cluster center vectors, and the new candidate cluster member vectors. The following equation assumes dataset members that range from X1 to Xn; it also assumes K cluster sets that range from S1 to Sk, where K <= n.

K Means clustering

K-Means in practice

The K-Means MLlib functionality uses the LabeledPoint structure to process its data and so it needs numeric input data. As the same data from the last section is being reused, we will not explain the data conversion again. The only change that has been made in data terms in this section, is that processing in HDFS will now take place under the /data/spark/kmeans/ directory. Additionally, the conversion Scala script for the K-Means example produces a record that is all comma-separated.

The development and processing for the K-Means example has taken place under the /home/hadoop/spark/kmeans directory to separate the work from other development. The sbt configuration file is now called kmeans.sbt and is identical to the last example, except for the project name:

name := "K-Means"

The code for this section can be found in the software package under chapter7K-Means. So, looking at the code for kmeans1.scala, which is stored under kmeans/src/main/scala, some similar actions occur. The import statements refer to the Spark context and configuration. This time, however, the K-Means functionality is being imported from MLlib. Additionally, the application class name has been changed for this example to kmeans1:

import org.apache.spark.SparkContext import org.apache.spark.SparkContext._ import org.apache.spark.SparkConf

import org.apache.spark.mllib.linalg.Vectors

import org.apache.spark.mllib.clustering.{KMeans,KMeansModel} object kmeans1 extends App {

The same actions are being taken as in the last example to define the data file–to define the Spark configuration and create a Spark context:

val hdfsServer = "hdfs://localhost:8020" val hdfsPath      = "/data/spark/kmeans/"

val dataFile     = hdfsServer + hdfsPath + "DigitalBreathTestData2013- MALE2a.csv"

val sparkMaster = "spark://localhost:7077" val appName = "K-Means 1"

val conf = new SparkConf() conf.setMaster(sparkMaster) conf.setAppName(appName)

val sparkCxt = new SparkContext(conf)

Next, the CSV data is loaded from the data file and split by comma characters into the VectorData variable:

val csvData = sparkCxt.textFile(dataFile) val VectorData = csvData.map {

csvLine =>

Vectors.dense( csvLine.split(',').map(_.toDouble))


A KMeans object is initialized, and the parameters are set to define the number of clusters and the maximum number of iterations to determine them:

val kMeans = new KMeans

val numClusters       = 3

val maxIterations     = 50

Some default values are defined for the initialization mode, number of runs, and Epsilon, which we needed for the K-Means call but did not vary for the processing. Finally, these parameters were set against the KMeans object:

val initializationMode = KMeans.K_MEANS_PARALLEL

val numRuns     = 1

val numEpsilon       = 1e-4 kMeans.setK( numClusters ) kMeans.setMaxIterations( maxIterations )

kMeans.setInitializationMode( initializationMode ) kMeans.setRuns( numRuns )

kMeans.setEpsilon( numEpsilon )

We cached the training vector data to improve the performance and trained the KMeans object using the vector data to create a trained K-Means model:


val kMeansModel = kMeans.run( VectorData )

We have computed the K-Means cost and number of input data rows, and have output the results via println statements. The cost value indicates how tightly the clusters are packed and how separate the clusters are:

val kMeansCost = kMeansModel.computeCost( VectorData ) println( "Input data rows : " + VectorData.count() ) println( "K-Means Cost  : " + kMeansCost )

Next, we have used the K-Means Model to print the cluster centers as vectors for each of the three clusters that were computed:

kMeansModel.clusterCenters.foreach{ println }

Finally, we use the K-Means model predict function to create a list of cluster membership predictions. We then count these predictions by value to give a count of the data points in each cluster. This shows which clusters are bigger and whether there really are three clusters:

val clusterRddInt = kMeansModel.predict( VectorData ) val clusterCount = clusterRddInt.countByValue

clusterCount.toList.foreach{ println }

} // end object kmeans1

So, in order to run this application, it must be compiled and packaged from the kmeans subdirectory as the Linux pwd command shows here:

[hadoop@hc2nn kmeans]$ pwd

/home/hadoop/spark/kmeans [hadoop@hc2nn kmeans]$ sbt package

Loading /usr/share/sbt/bin/sbt-launch-lib.bash [info] Set current project to K-Means (in build file:/home/hadoop/spark/kmeans/)

[info] Compiling 2 Scala sources to


[info] Packaging /home/hadoop/spark/kmeans/target/scala-2.10/k- means_2.10-1.0.jar ...

[info] Done packaging.

[success] Total time: 20 s, completed Feb 19, 2015 5:02:07 PM

Once this packaging is successful, we check HDFS to ensure that the test data is ready. As in the last example, we convert our data to numeric form using the convert.scala file, provided in the software package. We will process the DigitalBreathTestData2013- MALE2a.csv data file in the HDFS directory, /data/spark/kmeans, as follows:

[hadoop@hc2nn nbayes]$ hdfs dfs -ls /data/spark/kmeans Found 3 items

-rw-r--r--   3 hadoop supergroup 24645166 2015-02-05 21:11


-rw-r--r--   3 hadoop supergroup 5694226 2015-02-05 21:48

/data/spark/kmeans/DigitalBreathTestData2013-MALE2a.csv drwxr-xr-x - hadoop supergroup   0 2015-02-05 21:46


The spark-submit tool is used to run the K-Means application. The only change in this command is that the class is now kmeans1:


--class kmeans1 

--master spark://localhost:7077 

--executor-memory 700M 

--total-executor-cores 100 


The output from the Spark cluster run is shown to be as follows:

Input data rows : 467054

K-Means Cost  : 5.40312223450789E7

The previous output shows the input data volume, which looks correct; it also shows the K- Means cost value. The cost is based on the Within Set Sum of Squared Errors (WSSSE) which basically gives a measure how well the found cluster centroids are matching the distribution of the data points. The better they are matching, the lower the cost. The following link https://datasciencelab.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/finding-the-k-in-k-means-clustering/ explains WSSSE and how to find a good value for k in more detail.

Next come the three vectors, which describe the data cluster centers with the correct number of dimensions. Remember that these cluster centroid vectors will have the same number of columns as the original vector data:







Finally, cluster membership is given for clusters 1 to 3 with cluster 1 (index 0) having the largest membership at 407539 member vectors:




To summarize, we saw a practical  example that shows how K-means algorithm is used to cluster data with the help of Apache Spark.

If you found this post useful, do check out this book Mastering Apache Spark 2.x – Second Edition to learn about the latest enhancements in Apache Spark 2.x, such as interactive querying of live data and unifying DataFrames and Datasets.

Mastering Apache Spark 2.x



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