If you're involved or following developments in data science over the last few years, you've heard the term "map reduce". It's one of the new primitives that's a part of a few of the big data frameworks. When understanding how a technology works it helps to understand when two concepts are closely related. If you're still trying to wrap your brain around map reduce, here's a light-bulb moment that helped me: Map functions are found in a few programming languages like perl and python. Initially, I had thought of them as completely different from the map in map reduce. However at some point it clicked for me and I realized that in principle they are the same operation. All the tricks and idioms that I used with those map functions translates almost directly to things I can do with big data frameworks with the map reduce primitives. Map is map is map. In hindsight it's almost embarrassing that I didn't immediately connect these dots in my mind, but that's how these things sometimes go. Sometimes learning new technology is really as easy as making the mental connection with a concept you've already mastered.