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Dangermond Lecture 2017 – Discovering and clearing paths through the world— The pros and cons of graph databases

Graph Database systems are being increasingly adopted by the data research community for situations in which there is a need to explore ad hoc relationships across data elements. They are also being used, for instance, to help investigate connections in social networks, trophic cascades in species interactions, or the spreading of diseases.
While these systems favor navigation across non-structured data, and the dynamic insertion and deletion of relationships among data elements, they are far from offering the same facilities available from relational databases. In particular, graph database systems suffer from the lack of a consensual data model or standardized storage structures, which in turn result in a wide range of solutions and (non-interoperable) implementations of a given problem. The talk will discuss some of the pros and cons of using such databases in spatial studies, illustrated via real examples involving the Brazilian water network.

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