MyriaL is an imperative-yet-declarative high-level data flow language based on the relational algebra that includes support for SQL syntax, iteration, user-defined functions, and familiar language constructs such as set comprehensions. The language is the flagship programming interface for the Myria big data management system, and can it also be compiled to a number of other back ends.

The language began as a “whiteboard language” for reasoning about the semantics of Datalog programs. At the time, we anticipated Datalog becoming our premier programming interface. But the fact that we were using an imperative style language to reason about Datalog made us realize we should just implement the imperative language directly.

MyriaL is imperative: Each program is a sequence of assignment statements. However, it is also declarative, in two ways: First, the optimizer is free to reorder blocks of code and apply other transformations as needed prior to execution, meaning that the programmer need not write the ``perfect’’ program for decent performance. Second, the right-hand-side of each assignment statement may itself be a declarative expression: either a SQL query or a set comprehension. We find this combination of features to strike a useful balance between programmer control and programmer convenience.

MyriaL was designed by the Database group at the University of Washington, led by Andrew Whitaker, now at Amazon.

Reading Data and Storing in Myria

Ingesting data

Myria can read and store a CSV file from S3 via the load command:

    T = LOAD("", csv(schema(a:int, b:int), skip=0));
    STORE(T, TwitterK, [a, b]);

The skip option takes the number of lines at the beginning of the CSV file to skip over (such as column headers). Here, Myria will create a relation T1 with the contents of TwitterK.csv and store it in a table called TwitterK. The third argument, [a, b], is a list of attributes to partition the rows by.

Note that the load command can also handle TSV data:

    T = LOAD("", csv(schema(a:int, b:int), skip=0, delimiter="\t"));
    STORE(T, TwitterK, [a, b]);
    T = LOAD("",
                         z:float), skip=0));
              STORE(T, points, [x,y,z]);

The partition argument to STORE is actually optional. However, MyriaL needs explicit partition attribute specified for a relation created via LOAD.

Note: if your data contains non-Latin characters, please convert it to use UTF-8 encoding before loading.

Optional - loading data from other sources
You can also load data from other sources including your own local file system. To ingest from a local file source, you must deploy a local instance of Myria. Below is an example of loading a smallTable from a local file.

    T = LOAD("file:///path/to/smallTable/file",
                         y:float), skip=0));
              STORE(T, points, [x,y]);

If your table is in HDFS, you can also run something like the following:

    T = LOAD("hdfs://server:port/path/to/file",
                         y:float), skip=0));
              STORE(T, points, [x,y]);

Reading existing relations

Once a relation is stored, Myria can access use it in later queries with SCAN. This example simply repartitions the TwitterK relation by just attribute a.

    T = SCAN(TwitterK);
    STORE(T, TwitterK_part_a, [a]);

Create an empty relation

--Create an empty relation with a particular schema
r = empty(x:int, y:float, z:string);
STORE(r, myrelation);

Compute the result without storing it

MyriaL has fairly aggressive deadcode elimination. That means if you do not store a relation, Myria may not bother computing anything.

This program, for example,

T = SCAN(TwitterK);

results in the following error message

MyrialCompileException: Optimized program is empty

MyriaL provides the SINK command to get around this. We often find SINK useful when benchmarking Myria’s performance. The following program scans TwitterK from disk into memory and then throws the relation away.

T = SCAN(TwitterK);

Transforming Data

Now for some real queries! MyriaL has two styles of syntax: SQL and comprehensions. If you’ve used list comprehensions in python then MyriaL’s comprehensions will look familiar. Use the style you prefer or mix and match.

You can try all the examples in this section yourself by copy/pasting them into Myria demo.

Select, from, where

Let’s find the twitter relationships where the follower and followee are the same user.

T = scan(TwitterK);
-- SQL style syntax
s = select * from T where a = b;
store(s, selfloops);
T = scan(TwitterK);
-- comprehension syntax
s = [from T where a = b emit *];
store(s, selfloops);

from T means read tuples from relation T. where a = b means only keep tuples where the value of a is equal to the value of b. The * in emit * means the resulting relation should contain all the attributes from the relations in the from clause (in this case, the attributes of T: a and b).


Joins let us match two relations on 1 or more attributes. This query finds all the friend-of-friend relationships in TwitterK.

T1 = SCAN(TwitterK);
T2 = SCAN(TwitterK);
Joined = select T1.a, T1.b, T2.b
              from T1, T2
              where T1.b = T2.a;
STORE(Joined, TwoHopsInTwitter);
T1 = SCAN(TwitterK);
T2 = SCAN(TwitterK);
Joined = [FROM T1, T2
          WHERE T1.b = T2.a
          EMIT T1.a AS src, T1.b AS link, T2.b AS dst];

STORE(Joined, TwoHopsInTwitter);


Aggregation lets us combine results from multiple tuples. This query counts the number of friends for user 821.

T = scan(TwitterK);
cnt = select COUNT(*) from T where a=821;
store(cnt, user821);
T1 = scan(TwitterK);
cnt = [from T1 where a=821 emit COUNT(*) as x];
store(cnt, user821);

We can also group the aggregation by attributes. This query counts the number of friends for each user.

T = scan(TwitterK);
cnt = select a, COUNT(*) from T;
store(cnt, degrees);
T1 = scan(TwitterK);
cnt = [from T1 emit a, COUNT(*) as x];
store(cnt, degrees);

Notice that MyriaL’s syntax differs from SQL for group by. MyriaL groups by all attributes in the select clause without using a group by clause. For clarity, the equivalent SQL query is:

select a, COUNT(*) from T group by a;

unionall (Concatentation)

+ or UNIONALL concatenates to relations in MyriaL

T1 = SCAN(TwitterK);
result = T1+T1;
result = UNIONALL(result, T1);
STORE(result, threeTimes);

Set operations

Most operations in MyriaL treat the relation like a bag rather than a set, like SQL. However, MyriaL also has set operations like union, difference, and distinct.

List all unique users.

Edges = scan(TwitterK);
Left = select a as v from Edges;
Right = select b as v from Edges;
Dups = Left + Right;
Vertices = select distinct v from Dups;
store(Vertices, users);

Find the users that only appear as the source of an edge.

Edges = scan(TwitterK);
Left = select a as v from Edges;
Right = select b as v from Edges;
onlyleft = diff(Left, Right);
store(onlyleft, onlyleft);


MyriaL supports Do-While loops. The loop can be terminated on a condition about the data, so you can write iterative programs.

Find the vertices reachable from user 821.

Edge = scan(TwitterK);
-- special syntax for a scalar constant in MyriaL.
Source = [821 AS addr];
Reachable = Source;
Delta = Source;

    -- join to follow the horizon
    NewlyReachable = DISTINCT([FROM Delta, Edge
                              WHERE Delta.addr == Edge.src
                              EMIT Edge.dst AS addr]);
    -- which users are discovered for the first time?
    Delta = DIFF(NewlyReachable, Reachable);
    -- add them to our set of reachable users
    Reachable = UNIONALL(Delta, Reachable);
WHILE [FROM COUNTALL(Delta) AS size EMIT *size > 0];

STORE(Reachable, OUTPUT);

The condition should be a relation with one tuple with one boolean attribute.


Expressions are any code that evaluate to scalar values in MyriaL. They can appear in the EMIT (comprehesions) or SELECT (SQL) or WHERE clauses.


MyriaL has a number of math functions.

    T3 = [FROM SCAN(TwitterK) as t EMIT sin(a)/4 + b AS x];
    STORE(T3, ArithmeticExample);

    --Unicode math operators ≤, ≥, ≠

    T4 = [FROM SCAN(TwitterK) as t WHERE a  b and a  b and b  a EMIT *];
    STORE(T4,  ArithmeticExample2);


A constant is a singleton relation (a relation with a single 1-attribute tuple). You can use the relation as a scalar in an expression by preceding the name with * (we saw this in the loop example above).

N = [12];
T = scan(TwitterK);
S = select a, b from T where a = *N;
store(S, filtered);

User-defined functions

MyriaL supports writing User-defined Functions (UDFs) and User-defined Aggregates (UDAs) in the MyriaL syntax. Coming soon: Python UDFs!!.

User-defined function to calculate modulo.

def mod(x, n): x - int(x/n)*n;
T1 = [from scan(TwitterK) as t emit mod(a, b)];
STORE(T1, udf_result);

User-defined aggregate function to calculate an arg max. We’ll use it to find the vertex with the largest degree.

-- break ties by picking the first value
def pickval(value, arg, _value, _arg):
    case when value >= _value then arg
        else _arg end;

-- Every UDA has three statements: *init* to specify the state attributes and set initial values, *update* run for each tuple, and *output* to calculate the final result.

uda ArgMax(arg, val) {
   -- init
   [0 as _arg, 0 as _val];

   -- update
   [pickval(val, arg, _val, _arg),
    pickval(val, val, _val, _val)];

   -- output
   [_val, _arg];

cnt = [from scan(TwitterK) as t emit t.a as v, count(*) as degree];
T1 = [from cnt emit ArgMax(v, degree)];
STORE(T1, max_degree);

Stateful Apply

Stateful apply provides a way to define functions that keep mutable state.

This program assigns a sequential id to each tuple. Important: stateful apply is partition-local. That means every partition keeps its own state. The following program produces 0,1,2… for the tuples on every partition.

APPLY counter() {
  [0 AS c];
  [c + 1];
T1 = SCAN(TwitterK);
T2 = [FROM T1 EMIT a, counter()];
STORE (T2, identified);

To do a distributed counter, Myria has coordination operators like broadcast and collect, but these are not currently exposed in MyriaL.


MyriaL supports a number of types for attributes (and expressions) and performs type checking.


The Myria Catalog is case sensitive, so please make sure to Scan the correct relation name.

Advanced Examples