The History of Graphs, Interview with Community Members, & GraphQL Community Update — Plus Hackathon Announcement!
On April 15 every year, the global graph community gets together to celebrate the evolution of the graph ecosystem by marking the birthday of the creator of graph theory, Leonhard Euler. This year the community gathered virtually during a special extended live stream to mark the occasion.
In this post, we’ll review what was covered during GGCD 2021 including a bit about the history of graphs, special interviews with community members from around the globe, an update on the Neo4j GraphQL Library, plus a special announcement (spoiler alert: a Neo4j GraphQL hackathon with $10k in prizes!).
Leonhard Euler & the History of Graphs
We started off by reviewing the history of graphs and how the property graph model and graph databases like Neo4j have evolved from the original graph problem: the Seven Bridges of Königsberg.
But first, who is Leonhard Euler? Euler was an extremely influential Swiss mathematician, physicist, astronomer, geographer, logician, and engineer (!) during the 18th century. He made many contributions to human knowledge and understanding including discovering graph theory.
From a Graph of Bridges to the Property Graph Model
While walking around Königsberg in Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) Euler wondered if it was possible to walk through the city, crossing each of seven bridges over the Pregel River throughout the city only once. Euler realized this problem required a new method of mathematical analysis, which became graph theory: solving problems using a graph data structure composed of nodes and relationships.
From this foundation the property graph model and graph databases evolved when it became apparent that the graph data structure offered advantages for modeling, storing, and querying data.
- The GGCD 2021 Quiz! Answers must be received by April 30th for a chance to win a special graph t-shirt.
- New to Neo4j? Learn the graph database basics in 2 minutes.
- Join the Neo4j Community on Discord and the Neo4j Community Forum.
- Spin up a Neo4j Sandbox for hands-on guided experience with Cypher and your choice of data sets.
- Watch videos on the Neo4j YouTube channel.
- Read Neo4j developer blog posts from the community.
- Getting involved: https://neo4j.com/developer/contribute/
- APOC information: https://neo4j.com/labs/apoc/
- What is a Graph Database? http://r.neo4j.com/what-is-a-graphdb
Community Member Interviews from Around the World
Next, we were joined by three graph community members from throughout the world to share their stories of how they got started working with graphs and where they see the graph ecosystem going.
Shilpa joined us to share her experience with graphs and talk about two interesting projects that she’s been working on in very different domains: medical research and human resources. Shilpa has been translating resumes and job histories into a graph with the goal of helping everyone find interesting job opportunities. She gave a presentation about this project at NODES 2020 Extended. Another project she’s been working on is in the area of medical research, connecting research foundation, studies, and disease symptoms in a graph with the goal of making the outcomes of these studies more discoverable.
Shilpa also talked about the impact she sees the global graph community making on the world and how the visual UX of graphs and how they are presented make them more exciting and engaging for users.
Luanne has been a Neo4j user since before the 1.0 release, first using Neo4j to build a graph of user profiles. Luanne talked about the impact that the introduction of the Cypher query language has had and how the graph ecosystem has evolved. Luanne has been an active part of the graph community for over 10 years, building applications, training other developers, publishing content, and sharing her graph expertise through presentations at conferences, community events, and the Neo4j community online forums.
More recently, at GraphAware, Luanne has been working on Hume to enable users to discover insights and analyze data using graphs and Neo4j. With tools like Hume that make the power of graphs accessible to broader audiences, Luanne sees even more opportunities for uncovering hidden connections in data.
Mike is a geological engineer and does a lot of work with environmental data. He first came to graphs when he realized that relational models are not a good fit for representing the physical world. The power of the property graph model, Cypher, and the spatial extensions for Neo4j enable Mike and his team to work with both structured and unstructured data, extracting knowledge graphs from the text of environmental assessment reports and geo-sciences data for numerical analysis, for example.
As the co-founder of Menome Technologies and now at Arcurve, Mike is working to build a multi-agent system to decompose documents (such as environmental assessments and regulations) and build graphs from them for further analysis. You can find some interesting examples of these concepts and tools on the Menome GitHub page.
GraphQL Community Update
The final section of Global Graph Celebration Day 2021 was a Neo4j GraphQL community update from the Neo4j GraphQL team. GraphQL is an API query language that models application data as a graph. At Neo4j, we think using a graph database is the perfect fit for the backend data layer of your GraphQL API, and want to make it as easy as possible to build GraphQL APIs backed by Neo4j.
The Neo4j GraphQL team recently released a beta version of the Neo4j GraphQL Library. The goals of the Neo4j GraphQL Library are to enable developers to build Node.js GraphQL APIs backed by Neo4j with a focus on reducing boilerplate code and boosting developer productivity.
The Neo4j GraphQL Library allows developers to use GraphQL type definitions to define a Neo4j property graph model. These type definitions are then used to auto-generate a GraphQL API and essentially drive the Neo4j database model.
This means with just a few lines of code you can create a fully functional GraphQL API backed by a native graph database.
Announcing the Leonhard Euler Idea Contest
Join the Neo4j GraphQL Leonhard Euler Idea Contest hackathon with $10k in prizes!
The exciting announcement at the end of Global Graph Celebration Day was announcing the “Leonhard Euler Idea Contest” hackathon! This hackathon has total prizes worth $10,000 and will inspire developers to build applications using Neo4j & GraphQL. You can learn more about it in this blog post and register for the hackathon on the hackathon’s Devpost page.
Thanks to everyone who joined us live for Global Graph Celebration Day 2021! You don’t have to wait until next year’s Global Graph Celebration Day to be a part of the global graph community.