The Fifth Elephant 2013

An Event on Big Data and Cloud Computing

Neo4j Graphs: What, When, How

Submitted by Andreas Kollegger (@akollegger) on Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Section: Storage and Databases Technical level: Beginner


You will leave with an understanding of what a graph database is, what advantages it can offer, and when to use one. We'll focus on Neo4j, quickly covering it's capabilities then looking at some real world use cases from Fortune 500 companies.


Google's knowledge graph, Facebook's graph search, and even Amazon's recommendation engine are hugely successful applications of basic graph theory. We'll take a look at Neo4j, the world's leading graph database, to understand what graphs offers and how to use them in real applications.

We'll start with a basic introduction to Neo4j and graph databases, placing them in context of NOSQL and Big Data. Then we'll explore a few business use cases which illustrate different advantages of using graphs. While we'll touch on some technical details, the focus will be understanding what a graph database is, when to use one, and how it helps.

You'll leave knowing how to identify a graph problem when you see one, and be ready to do something about it.


For the best experience, bring along any device which can tweet.

Speaker bio

With NASA, for the love of technology. Then Zambia, using technology for social good. Now with Neo4j, making the world a better place from a graph perspective.

Andreas has been part of the Neo4j community since having his own graph epiphany while working on medical informatics in Zambia. He joined as an early member of core engineering, and has now taken on the role of Product Experience Designer, responsible for maturing that fantastic codebase into an industrial strength product.



  • Govind Kanshi (@govindsk) 6 years ago

    Thanks Andreas for proposing this. I am assuming you are planning to discuss how “areas” - like as you mentioned (obvious ones - social media to order placement on ecommerce engine) to Ad location auction or other auctions can be represented in Graphs. I am imagining coming from NeoJ - you might focus on ingestion/storage and querying but more importantly what algorithms one can run on these kind of platforms. You might touch upon - Gephi/NodeXL kind of “visualization” platforms. If it is would love to have more of it.

  • Joydeep Sen Sarma (@jsensarma) 6 years ago

    Neo4j is relatively new and unknown in these parts. I would love to see a talk on Neo4j itself (basic api and architecture). The questions in most people’s minds are when one should use something like Neo4j - vs. implementing basic graph lookups oneself using some combination of memcache/db (as large parts of FB do for example). Real-life use cases and performance profile would be very interesting.

    The talk abstract as proposed is too generic imho. A lot of things can be represented as a graph - but that doesn’t mean we should be replacing all database backends with graph databases. A focused talk on where the strengths/weaknesses of these platforms lie would serve the audience well.

  • Andreas Kollegger (@akollegger) Proposer 6 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback about the proposal. I do intend to provide a basic introduction to Neo4j, then use the domains to demonstrate common data patterns and queries.

  • Govind Kanshi (@govindsk) 6 years ago

    Thanks Andreas as mentioned earlier a comparison and imp of when to use graph storage and what works/does not work will be better for audience.

  • Srinivasan Seshadri (@sesh) 6 years ago

    as mentioned by other commenters would be awesome to focus on
    when is neo4j really appropriate as opposed to other data storage platforms

    if the talk can focus on only the above and keep drawing comparisons with other
    platforms it will be very valuable..

    a tutorial on neo4j will not be useful.. simply put a sales pitch is more valuable than a technical tutorial given that most of the audience will not know neo4j.. objective should be to get them excited to go learn more after the talk..

  • t3rmin4t0r (@t3rmin4t0r) 6 years ago

    Are you going to head into use-case land for neo4j or more along the technical challenges in the scale-up of graph dbs?

    I did build a web-scale k-v store backed ACL system last year, where neo4j fell through the cracks because of GPL licensing. The real trouble was FOAF relationships instead of the directly looked up transitive friendships, with an inverted index.

    It would be interesting to know which way you want to go with your talk here? Use-case heavy or tech/cluster-arch heavy?

  • Andreas Kollegger (@akollegger) Proposer 6 years ago

    Based on comments so far, I’m happy to shift the focus of this talk to explaining where graphs fit within the database landscape: what is a graph database, how do they compare, when to use them. I’ll use only a handful of use cases, each of which illustrate a specific advantage. There will be some technical detail, where helpful, but I’d like to propose a separate workshop for people interested in a deeper technical understanding.

  • Arthi Venkataraman (@arthi) 6 years ago

    It would be interesting to know what kind of additional inference and analytics can be drawn by using a Graph database.
    In what analytic use cases will be a graph database be useful compared to other NoSQL database forms.


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