Graphs Are The Next Frontier In Data Science

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GraphConnect 2018

GraphConnect 2018, Neo4j’s bi-annual conference, was held in New York City in mid-September. It took place right in mid-town Manhattan at the beautiful Marriott Marquis Times Square. I had the opportunity to attend some parts of the conference.

This was the schedule of events:

  • Keynotes and Sessions (Thursday)
  • Training Sessions (Friday)
  • Ecosystem Summit (Friday)
  • Community Hackathon (Saturday)

History of GraphConnect

The first GraphConnect conference was held in 2012. It is worth noting the community and user growth of Neo4j. I spoke to a participant who attended the first conference 6 years prior who shared that back then about 50 to 100 people attended. This year, over 1000 people attended.

About Neo4j

Neo4j efficiency is derived in using “pointers” to connect data, rather than “indices.” Traditional tabular datasets may contain “sparse matrices” if not all relationships between entities exist which slows down performance and is not optimally efficient.

Neo4j is open-sourced. There is a Community Edition that is available for free and also an Enterprise Edition which is available under a commercial license.


Neo4j founder Emil Eifrem and iconic data scientist Hilary Mason both delivered fantastic keynotes. Video recordings are publicly available for viewing all the keynote talks (about 90 minutes in duration).

Conference Highlights / Key Takeaways from Emil Eifrem

Seeing our Data as Networks

NoSQL is Resource Intensive / Graphs are Efficient

Popularity of Graphs

Healthcare Application

Hilary Mason


Thirteen different training sessions were offered as a separate conference event. Topics included modeling, development, data science and analysis for people at all levels of Neo4j experience:

  • New to Graphs
    • Neo4j Basics
    • New Features in Neo4j
  • Data Scientists and BI/Analysts
    • Graph Algorithms
    • Data Science and ML
    • Discovery and Visualization with Bloom
  • Architects, DBAs, and Data Modelers
    • Intro to Graph Modelling
    • Graph Modelling Clinic
  • Developers
    • Python web app development
    • Building apps on the GRANDstack
    • Modeling for Developers (refactoring, evolving, hands-on Cypher)
    • Cypher Tuning & Performance
    • APOC Extensions for Analytics and Operations
    • Graph-Based Natural Language Understanding

Ecosystem Summit

This was a private event to bring together the top Neo4j open source contributors, influencers and inspirational community leaders. Discussions were held in a smaller room. It was an intimate and casual discussion with Neo4j executives.


On Saturday, September 22, there was a free community event, called Neo4j Buzzword Bingo Hackathon, which was a hackathon using the open-source software. Over 120 tech lovers attended this event which was hosted at Stack Overflow.

Social Media

Neo4j Company Milestones

  • 2000: Neo’s founders encountered performance problems with RDBMS and started building the first Neo4j prototype
  • 2002: Developed the first ever version of Neo4j
  • 2003: First 24×7 production Neo4j deployment
  • 2007: Formed a Swedish-based company behind Neo4j. Also open sourced the first graph database, Neo4j, under the GPL
  • 2009: Raised seed funding, $2.5M, from Sunstone and Conor and continued development
    • First Global 2000 Customer
  • 2010: Released Neo4j version 1.0
  • 2011: Raised A round and moved headquarters to Silicon Valley
  • 2012: Raised $11M Series B from Fidelity, Sunstone, and Conor
    • GraphConnect SF 2012GraphConnect, first conference on graph databases
  • 2015: Raised $20M Series C from Creandum with Dawn and existing investors
    • 2M+ Downloads of Neo4j
  • 2016: $36M Series D from Greenbridge Investment
  • 2017: Neo4j announces the Graph Platform, a connection-first approach to data query, visualization and analysis data.



Networking at a Networks Conference

Fun in the DevZone

Learning Neo4j


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