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Feathr Expression Language

Do not use expressions not listed here. Expressions not listed here will not be supported.

What’s Feathr Expression Language

Feathr expression language is used to provide common data transformations along with other Feathr APIs for feature engineering. It can be used in feature transformation, entity key transformation and some other places. Feathr expression language is a SQL dialect that provides a subset of SQL functionalities with some Feathr built-in UDFs.

When Not to Use Feathr Expression Language

If the feature transformation can’t be accomplished with a short line of expression, then you should not use Feathr expression language. You should contact us to see if it can be supported via UDFs(see later section). If not(this is pretty rare), you should do some preprocessing via other tools first.

Usage Guide

Your data transformation can be composed of one or a few smaller tasks. Divide and conquer! For each individual task, check the following sections on how to acheive them. Then combine them. For example, we have a trip mileage column but it’s in string form. We want to compare if it’s a long trip(> 30 miles). So we need to cast it into double and then compare with 30. We can do cast_double(mile_column) > 30.

Field accessing

If your data is in nested record, then you can access them via a.b syntax.

For example, my data schema is like this:

  user : name

then I can access it via

Type Cast

You can cast your data to the desired type with our cast functions:

  • cast_double(input): cast to double
  • cast_float(input): cast to float
  • cast_int(input): cast to int

Concatenate String

You can concatenate string with concat(str1, str2). For exmample, concat("apple", "orage") produces appleorange.

Arithmetic Operations

For data of numeric types, you can use arithmetic operators to perform opterations. Here are the supported operators: +,-,*,/

Logical Operators

If the logical operator you need is not here, please raise a github issue with us.

Logical operators combine multiple true and false statements and return respective true or false. We support three logical operators(here x and y are two expressions):

  • and(x, y): returns true when both expressions are true
  • or(x, y): returns true when either expressions are true
  • not(x): negation of x

Equals and not Equals

  • ==: equals
  • !=: not equals

Check null or empty string

  • isnull: return true when it’s null
  • isnotnull: return false when it’s null
  • input == '': return true if input is empty string
  • input != '': return true if input is not empty string

Ternary Operator

if_else(exp, a, b) returns a if exp is true else return b.

Feathr Built-in UDFs

If the UDFs you need is not here, please raise an github issue with us.

Feathr built-in UDFs(user-defined-function) provide useful feature transformation or feature engineering functionalities that might not be easy to achieve with existing expression. All the Spark SQL Functions are supported.

How Feathr Expressions Works Under the Hood

Feathr expressions relies on Mvel and Spark SQL as the underlying engine. The supported functionalities are a subset of Mvel and Spark SQL to ensure cross-platform compatibility. The underlying engine may be updated or replaced in the future but the supported operators in this doc will stay. If you are using some operators that are not mentioned here, it might work in one platform but might not work on others.