hadoop: difference between 0 reducer and identity reducer?

You understanding is correct. I would define it as following:
If you do not need sorting of map results – you set 0 reduced,and the job is called map only.

If you need to sort the mapping results, but do not need any aggregation – you choose identity reducer.
And to complete the picture we have a third case : we do need aggregation and, in this case we need reducer.

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