A library for exporting Spark ML models and pipelines to PFA

License: Apache-2.0

Language: Scala

Keywords: apache-spark, machine-learning, ml, model, model-export, pfa, pfa-standard, pipelines

Build Status


Aardpfark is a library for exporting Spark ML models and pipelines to the Portable Format for Analytics (PFA).

PFA is a JSON format for representing machine learning models, data transformations and analytic applications. The format encapsulates both serialization as well as the operations (or functions) to be applied to input data to produce output data. It can essentially be thought of as a mini functional language, together with a data schema specification.

A PFA "document" is fully self-contained and can be executed by any compliant execution engine, making a model written to PFA truly portable across languages, frameworks, and runtimes.



Quick start

Aardpfark currently targets and has been tested on Apache Spark 2.2.0. 2.3.0 support will be added soon.

  1. Build the aardpfark project (ignoring tests ) using sbt 'set test in assembly := {}' clean assembly
  2. Add the aardpfark JAR to your Spark application, e.g. using spark-shell:
./bin/spark-shell --driver-class-path /PATH_TO_AARDPFARK_JAR/aardpfark-assembly-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar

Use with SBT or Maven

Note publishing to Maven coming soon.

First you will need to install aardpfark locally using sbt publish-local. Then, add it to your SBT build file:

libraryDependencies += "" %% "aardpfark" % "0.1.0-SNAPSHOT"


Aardpfark provides functions for exporting supported models to PFA as JSON strings. For example, to export a simple logistic regression model and print the resulting PFA document:



val data ="libsvm").load("data/sample_multiclass_classification_data.txt")
val lr = new LogisticRegression()
val model =

val pfa = toPFA(model, true)

Pipeline support

Aardpfark also supports exporting pipeline consisting of supported models and transformers. Because it requires access to the schema information of the input dataframe, you must also pass in that schema to the export function:



val data ="libsvm").load("data/sample_multiclass_classification_data.txt")
val scaler = new StandardScaler().setInputCol("features").setOutputCol("scaled")
val lr = new LogisticRegression().setFeaturesCol("scaled")
val pipeline = new Pipeline().setStages(Array(scaler, lr))
val model =

val pfa = toPFA(model, data.schema, true)

Support for more natural implicit conversions is also in progress.

Scoring exported models

To score exported models, use a reference PFA scoring engine in Java, Python or R from the Hadrian project. Note for the JVM engine you will need to install the daily branch build (see the instructions below).

For example, using the Hadrian JVM engine (in Scala). You can add the Hadrian jar to the driver classpath

$SPARK_HOME/bin/spark-shell --driver-class-path /PATH_TO_AARDPFARK_JAR/aardpfark-assembly-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar:/PATH_TO_HADRIAN_JAR/hadrian-0.8.5.jar

and execute the following:

import com.opendatagroup.hadrian.jvmcompiler.PFAEngine


val data ="libsvm").load("data/sample_multiclass_classification_data.txt")
val lr = new LogisticRegression()
val model =

val pfa = toPFA(model, true)
val engine = PFAEngine.fromJson(pfa, multiplicity = 1).head
val input = """{"features":[-0.222222,0.5,-0.762712,-0.833333]}"""

You should see the result returned as JSON:


Check out the aardpfark test cases to see further examples. We are working on adding more detailed examples and benchmarks.

Running the tests

Note aardpfark tests depend on the JVM reference implementation of a PFA scoring engine: Hadrian. Hadrian has not yet published a version supporting Scala 2.11 to Maven, so you will need to install the daily branch to run the tests.

Install Hadrian using the following steps:

  1. Clone the repo: git clone
  2. Change to the cloned hadrian sub-directory: cd hadrian/hadrian
  3. Checkout the daily branch: git checkout daily
  4. Install locally using Maven: mvn install

Run tests using sbt test. The test cases include checking equivalence between what Spark ML components produce and what PFA produces.


Aardpfark aims to provide complete coverage of all Spark ML components. The current coverage status is listed below.

NOTE export to PFA is for Models and Transformers only (not Estimators)

Component Status
Logistic Regression Supported
LinearSVC Supported
Linear Regression Supported
Generalized Linear Model Supported
Multilayer Perceptron Supported
Decision Tree Classifier & Regressor Supported
Gradient Boosted Tree Classifier & Regressor Supported
Naive Bayes Supported
OneVsRest Not yet
AFTSurvivalRegresstion Not yet
IsotonicRegression Not yet
KMeans Supported
Bisecting KMeans Not yet
LDA Not yet
Gaussian Mixture Not yet
ALS Not yet
Feature Extractors
CountVectorizerModel Supported
IDFModel Supported
Word2Vec Not yet
HashingTF Not yet
FeatureHasher Not yet
Feature Transformers
Binarizer Supported
Bucketizer Supported
ElementwiseProduct Supported
MaxAbsScalerModel Supported
MinMaxScalerModel Supported
NGram Supported
Normalizer Supported
PCAModel Supported
QuantileDiscretizer Supported
RegexTokenizer Supported
StandardScalerModel Supported
StopWordsRemover Supported
StringIndexerModel Supported
VectorAssembler Supported
OneHotEncoderModel Not yet
PolynomialExpansion Not yet
IndexToString Not yet
VectorIndexer Not yet
Imputer Not yet
Interaction Not yet
VectorSizeHint Won't support (TBD)
DCT Won't support
SQLTransformer Won't support
Feature Selectors
ChiSqSelectorModel Supported
VectorSlicer Supported
RFormula Not yet
LSH transformers Not yet


Immediate objectives include:

  • Complete adding support for Spark ML components together with tests
  • Complete Scala DSL and tests
  • Add PySpark support
  • Improve the existing test coverage
  • Improve the pipeline support

Longer term objectives include:

  • Add support for other ML libraries, starting with scikit-learn
  • Add support for generic vectors (mixed sparse/dense)


We welcome contributions - whether it be adding or improving documentation and examples, adding support for missing Spark ML components, or any other item on the roadmap above. See CONTRIBUTING for details and open an issue or pull request.


Aardpfark is released under an Apache 2.0 License (see LICENSE).

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Nick Pentreath Gera Shegalov

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