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Pachyderm Versioned Data Concepts

Pachyderm data concepts describe version-control primitives that you interact with when you use Pachyderm.

These ideas are conceptually similar to the Git version-control system with a few notable exceptions. Because Pachyderm deals not only with plain text but also with binary files and large datasets, it does not process the data in the same way as Git. When you use Git, you store a copy of the repository on your local machine. You work with that copy, apply your changes, and then send the changes to the upstream master copy of the repository where it gets merged.

Pachyderm version control works slightly differently. In Pachyderm, only a centralized repository exists and you do not store any local copies of that repository. Therefore, the merge, in the traditional Git meaning, does not occur.

Instead, your data can be continuously updated in the master branch of your repo, while you can experiment with specific data commits in a separate branch or branches. Because of this behavior, you cannot run into a merge conflict with Pachyderm.

The Pachyderm data versioning system has the following main concepts:


A Pachyderm repository is the highest level data object, an independent file system. Typically, each dataset in Pachyderm is its own repository.


A commit is an immutable snapshot of a data in Pachyderm corresponding to a change in source data or transformations. Unlike in git, a commit records the state of a branche in a repository.


A branch is the basic unit of provenance. At any given time, it points to the state of its repo at a particular commit, updating as new data is added. Crucially, a branch also tells Pachyderm what input it depends on.


Files are actual data in your repository. Pachyderm supports any type, size, and number of files.


Provenance expresses the relationship between branches in different repositories. It helps you understand the origin of all data in Pachyderm, ensuring each commit contains enough information to reconstruct the past.

Last update: July 23, 2022
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