A spatial extension to Pig Latin
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Ahmed Eldawy
Ahmed Eldawy When an error happens with one of the functions, a GeoException is no…
…w thrown which includes the geometry that caused the error
Latest commit 72c47fe Apr 6, 2018



Pigeon is a spatial extension to Pig that allows it to process spatial data. All functionalities in Pigeon are introduced as user-defined functions (UDFS) which makes it unobtrusive and allows it to work with your existing systems. All the spatial functionality is supported by [ESRI Geometry API] (https://github.com/Esri/geometry-api-java) a native Java open source library for spatial functionality licensed under Apache Public License.

Our target is to have something like PostGIS but for Pig instead of PostgreSQL. We use the same function names to make it easier for existing users to use Pigeon. Here is an example the computes the union of all ZIP codes in each city.

zip_codes = LOAD 'zips' AS (zip, city, geom);
zip_by_city = GROUP zip_codes BY city;
zip_union = FOREACH zip_by_city
    GENERATE group AS city, ST_Union(geom);

Data types

Currently, Pig does not support the creation of custom data types. This is not the best thing for Pigeon because we wanted to have our own data type (Geometry) similar to PostGIS. As a work around, we use the more generic type bytearray as our main data type. All conversions happen from bytearray to Geometry and vice-verse on the fly while the function is executed. If a function expects an input of type Geometry, it receives a bytearray and converts it Geometry. If the output is of type Geometry, it computes the output, converts it to bytearray, and returns that bytearray instead. This is a little bit cumbersome, but the Pig team is able to add custom data types so that we have a cleaner extension.

How to compile

Pigeon requires ESRI Geometry API to compile. You need to download a recent version of the library and add it to the classpath of your Java compiler to be able to compile the code. Of course you also need Pig classes to be available in the classpath. The current code is tested against ESRI Geometry API 1.0 and Pig 0.11.1. Currently you have to do the compilation manually but we are planning to create an ANT build file to automate the compilation. Once you compile the code, you can create a jar file out of it and REGISTER it in your Pig scripts.

How to use

To use Pigeon in your Pig scripts, you need to REGISTER the jar file in your Pig script. Then you can use the spatial functionality in your script as you cdo with normal functionality. Here are some simple examples on how to use Pigeon.

Let's say you have a trajectory in the form (latitude, longitude, timestamp). We need to for a Linestring out of this trajectory when points in this linestring are sorted by timestamp.

points = LOAD 'trajectory.tsv' AS (time: datetime, lat:double, lon:double);
s_points = FOREACH points GENERATE ST_MakePoint(lat, lon) AS point, time;
points_by_time = ORDER s_points BY time;
points_grouped = GROUP points_by_time ALL;
lines = FOREACH points_grouped GENERATE ST_AsText(ST_MakeLine(points_by_time));
STORE lines INTO 'line';

Supported functions

Here is a list of all functions that are currently supported.

Basic Spatial Functions

  • ST_AsHex Converts a shape to its Well-Known Binary (WKB) format encoded as Hex string
  • ST_AsText Converts a shape to its Well-Known Text (WKT) format
  • ST_GeomFromText Parses a WKT representation into an object
  • ST_GeomFromWKT Parses an object from a hex-encoded WKB representation
  • ST_MakePoint Creates a geometry point given two numeric coordinates
  • ST_MakeBox Creates a rectangle from its four coordinates (x1, y1, x2, y2)
  • ST_Area Calculates the area of a surface shape (e.g., Polygon)
  • ST_Envelope Calculates the envelope (MBR) of a shape
  • ST_Buffer Computes a buffer with the specified distance around a geometry.
  • ST_NumPoints Returns number of points in a linestring
  • ST_XMin Returns the minimum x-coordinate of an object
  • ST_YMin Returns the minimum y-coordinate of an object
  • ST_XMax Returns the maximum x-coordinate of an object
  • ST_YMax Returns the maximum y-coordinate of an object

Spatial Predicates

  • ST_Crosses Checks if one polygon crosses another polygon
  • ST_IsEmpty Tests whether a shape is empty or not.
  • ST_Contains Tests for containment between two geometries
  • ST_Intersects Tests if two objects intersect
  • ST_Overlaps Tests if two objects overlap
  • ST_Touches Tests if two objects touch
  • ST_Within Tests if one geometry is withing another geometry

Spatial Analysis

  • ST_Buffer Computes a buffer with the specified distance around a geometry.
  • ST_ConvexHull Computes the minimal convex polygon of a shape.
  • ST_Break Breaks a geometry into straight line segments
  • ST_Difference Calculates the difference between two polygons.
  • ST_Intersection Computes the intersection betwen two polygons.
  • ST_MakeSegments Creates a set of line segments given a set of points by connecting each two consecutive points

Aggregate functions

  • ST_MakeLine Creates a line string given a bag of points
  • ST_MakePolygon Creates a polygon given a circular list of points
  • ST_MakeLinePolygon Creates a line or polygons from a list of points depending on whether the last point is the same as the first point or not
  • ST_ConvexHull Computes the convex hull from a bag of shapes
  • ST_Union Computes the spatial union of a set of surfaces (e.g., Polygons)
  • ST_Extent Computes the minimal bounding rectangle (MBR) of a set of shapes
  • ST_Connect Connects a set of linestrings together to form longer linestring or polygons


Pigeon is open source and licensed under the Apache open source license. Your contribution is highly welcome and appreciated. Here is a simple guideline of how to contribute.

  1. Clone your own copy of the source code or fork the project in github.
  2. Pick an issue from the list of issues associated with the project.
  3. Write a test case for the new functionality and make sure it fails.
  4. Fix the code so that the test case succeeds.
  5. Make sure that all existing tests still pass.
  6. Revise all your changes and add comments whenever needed. Make sure you don't make any unnecessary changes (e.g., reformatting).
  7. Submit a pull request if you are a github user or send a patch if you aren't.
  8. We will revise the submitted patch and merge it with the code when done.

When writing the test, keep in mind that we are not testing Pig or ESRI Geometry API. We are testing Pigeon which is a wrapper around ESRI Geometry API. For example, you don't have to test all the special cases of polygons if implementing an intersection function. All what we want is to make sure that you call the right function in ESRI Geometry API and return the output in the correct format.

Mainly, we need to support as many as possible of the functions provided by PostGIS.