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I am working on a use case, and I'm unsure of the best way to proceed: in order to analyze the behavior of users of a web-based music application, we retain all songs each has played since 2009. We store this information in flat files, each containing the songs played in a day. Each file contains 50M of lines, and we have 19M users. Our entire song catalogue consists of 35M tracks.

The format of these files is as follows:

id-user | country | id-artist | id-track

Question: I would like to represent each user by the songs he or she has played; this profile would be used by the production site. Does anyone have a suggestion for what would be the best way to process the whole chain?

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  • $\begingroup$ You need to give more information that this if you want useful feedback. Used by the production site to do what? The use case of that data will guide how you design and implement your user profile. $\endgroup$ – Jérémie Clos Sep 30 '15 at 8:36
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The first question is: what to do you want to see in user profile?

  • Top-10 tracks, top-10 artist by user?
  • How many tracks/artists a user listens to in a day on average (may be, in last month)?

May be you want to get some general information related to the whole user base:

  • Which artist/track is the most popular among users from different countries (top-N of them)?

The second: you store and want to make aggregates for millions of records. It's not a text file deal. Make a database. Create a table id-user | country | id-artist | id-track. Create another tables with some aggregates from #1, update it regularly and diplay on the front end.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you IharS for your quick reply. Can you please describe me the whole process from the begining to the end. Thank you $\endgroup$ – user17241 Sep 29 '15 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ How to create a data base? Any relational will be OK. Create table? Write to database? Man... that's a basic stuff... Google MySql FAQ $\endgroup$ – IharS Sep 29 '15 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ No I mean why you think that aggregation is the solution. $\endgroup$ – user17241 Sep 29 '15 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ @IharS I don't think a RDBMS is the best solution. It's a tracking profile so data will only ever be added, never changed or deleted. It might be one of the rare use cases where I would advocate for some trendy noSQL database. $\endgroup$ – Jérémie Clos Sep 30 '15 at 8:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JérémieClos thank you for your reply, so do yu think that I use hbase and Pig to do this? $\endgroup$ – user17241 Sep 30 '15 at 9:32
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You can download a free as in beer software Qlikview that allows you to do interactive data discovery via graphical interface similar to Excel but also featuring a powerful scripting language for data load and transformation. Huge flat files is no problem at all. It is an in-memory technology so you'd need a computer with a lot of RAM. The advantage though is that it can load billions of records in a star schema but still allows you to do discovery ad hoc (second or sub-second time) without writing and rewriting SQL. I am always using it to screen the data and run descriptive statistics + visual exploration on it. From Data Science standpoint this is a very advanced column based data engine integrated with a powerful dictionary of descriptive stat functions and interactive graphics UI. You will be surprised what is possible with your data.

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