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Aggregation Pipeline and Sharded Collections

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The aggregation pipeline supports operations on sharded collections. This section describes behaviors specific to the aggregation pipeline and sharded collections.


Changed in version 3.2.

If the pipeline starts with an exact $match on a shard key, the entire pipeline runs on the matching shard only. Previously, the pipeline would have been split, and the work of merging it would have to be done on the primary shard.

Changed in version 3.6.

When aggregation operations run on multiple shards, the results are routed to the mongos to be merged, except in the following cases:

  • If the pipeline includes the $out or $lookup stages, the merge runs on the primary shard.
  • If the pipeline includes a sorting or grouping stage, and the allowDiskUse setting is enabled, the merge runs on a randomly-selected shard.


When splitting the aggregation pipeline into two parts, the pipeline is split to ensure that the shards perform as many stages as possible with consideration for optimization.

To see how the pipeline was split, include the explain option in the db.collection.aggregate() method.

Optimizations are subject to change between releases.