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Death Star Queries in Graph Databases

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Death Star

In Cypher, we call any unbounded star query a “Death Star” query. You’ll recognize it if you see a star between two brackets in any part of the query:


the deadly pattern of a death star query

The “star” in Cypher means “keep going”, and when it is not bound by a path length -[*..3]- or relationship type(s) -[:KNOWS|FRIENDS*]- it tends to blow up Alderaaning servers. It’s hard to find a valid reason for this query, but its less deadly cousins are very important in graph workloads.

For example when looking at fraud, we may start with a Customer node and ask, which known Fraudulent nodes are within 4 hops away? A Customer HAS an Account that was ACCESSED by a Device that ACCESSED another Account that BELONGS_TO a known Fraudster. A Customer HAS a mailing Address that is very SIMILAR to an Address that BELONGS_TO a Business that is partially OWNED by a known Fraudster. These are just two out of many valid patterns in our graph. Graph databases were designed to handle these kind of queries. The trick is that every node KNOWS its relationships, every node KNOWS how it is connected.

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