· neo4j

Neo4j: Cypher - Step by step to creating a linked list of adjacent nodes using UNWIND

In late 2013 I wrote a post showing how to create a linked list connecting different football seasons together using Neo4j's Cypher query language, a post I've frequently copy & pasted from!

Now 18 months later, and using Neo4j 2.2 rather than 2.0, we can actually solve this problem in what I believe is a more intuitive way using the UNWIND function. Credit for the idea goes to Michael, I'm just the messenger.

To recap, we had a collection of football seasons and we wanted to connect adjacent seasons to each other to allow easy querying between seasons. The following is the code we used:


CREATE (:Season {name: "2013/2014", timestamp: 1375315200})
CREATE (:Season {name: "2012/2013", timestamp: 1343779200})
CREATE (:Season {name: "2011/2012", timestamp: 1312156800})
CREATE (:Season {name: "2010/2011", timestamp: 1280620800})
CREATE (:Season {name: "2009/2010", timestamp: 1249084800})

MATCH (s:Season)
WITH s
ORDER BY s.timestamp
WITH COLLECT(s) AS seasons
 
FOREACH(i in RANGE(0, length(seasons)-2) | 
    FOREACH(si in [seasons[i]] | 
        FOREACH(si2 in [seasons[i+1]] | 
            MERGE (si)-[:NEXT]->(si2))))

Our goal is to replace those 3 FOREACH loops with something a bit easier to understand. To start with, let's run the first part of the query to get some intuition of what we're trying to do:


MATCH (s:Season)
WITH s
ORDER BY s.timestamp
RETURN COLLECT(s) AS seasons

==> +-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
==> | seasons                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     |
==> +-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
==> | [Node[1973]{timestamp:1249084800,name:"2009/2010"},Node[1972]{timestamp:1280620800,name:"2010/2011"},Node[1971]{timestamp:1312156800,name:"2011/2012"},Node[1970]{timestamp:1343779200,name:"2012/2013"},Node[1969]{timestamp:1375315200,name:"2013/2014"}] |
==> +-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+

So at this point we've got all the seasons in an array going from 2009/2010 up to 2013/2014. We want to create a 'NEXT' relationship between 2009/2010 -> 2010/2011, 2010/2011 -> 2011/2012 and so on.

To achieve this we need to get the adjacent seasons split into two columns, like so:


2009/2010	2010/2011
2010/2011	2011/2012
2011/2012	2012/2013
2012/2013	2013/2014

If we can get the data into that format then we can apply a MERGE between the two fields to create the 'NEXT' relationship. So how do we do that?

If we were in Python we'd be calling for the zip function which we could apply like this:


>>> seasons = ["2009/2010", "2010/2011", "2011/2012", "2012/2013", "2013/2014"]

>>> zip(seasons, seasons[1:])
[('2009/2010', '2010/2011'), ('2010/2011', '2011/2012'), ('2011/2012', '2012/2013'), ('2012/2013', '2013/2014')]

Unfortunately we don't have an equivalent function in Cypher but we can achieve the same outcome by creating 2 columns with adjacent integer values. The RANGE and UNWIND functions are our friends here:


return RANGE(0,4)

==> +-------------+
==> | RANGE(0,4)  |
==> +-------------+
==> | [0,1,2,3,4] |
==> +-------------+

UNWIND RANGE(0,4) as idx 
RETURN idx, idx +1;

==> +--------------+
==> | idx | idx +1 |
==> +--------------+
==> | 0   | 1      |
==> | 1   | 2      |
==> | 2   | 3      |
==> | 3   | 4      |
==> | 4   | 5      |
==> +--------------+
==> 5 rows

Now all we need to do is plug this code into our original query where 'idx' and 'idx + 1' represent indexes into the array of seasons. We use a range which stops 1 element early since there isn't anywhere to connect our last season to:


MATCH (s:Season)
WITH s
ORDER BY s.timestamp
WITH COLLECT(s) AS seasons
UNWIND RANGE(0,LENGTH(seasons) - 2) as idx 
RETURN seasons[idx], seasons[idx+1]

==> +-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
==> | seasons[idx]                                      | seasons[idx+1]                                    |
==> +-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
==> | Node[1973]{timestamp:1249084800,name:"2009/2010"} | Node[1972]{timestamp:1280620800,name:"2010/2011"} |
==> | Node[1972]{timestamp:1280620800,name:"2010/2011"} | Node[1971]{timestamp:1312156800,name:"2011/2012"} |
==> | Node[1971]{timestamp:1312156800,name:"2011/2012"} | Node[1970]{timestamp:1343779200,name:"2012/2013"} |
==> | Node[1970]{timestamp:1343779200,name:"2012/2013"} | Node[1969]{timestamp:1375315200,name:"2013/2014"} |
==> +-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
==> 4 rows

Now we've got all the adjacent seasons lined up we complete the query with a call to MERGE:


MATCH (s:Season)
WITH s
ORDER BY s.timestamp
WITH COLLECT(s) AS seasons
UNWIND RANGE(0,LENGTH(seasons) - 2) as idx 
WITH seasons[idx] AS s1, seasons[idx+1] AS s2
MERGE (s1)-[:NEXT]->(s2)

==> +-------------------+
==> | No data returned. |
==> +-------------------+
==> Relationships created: 4

And we're done. Hopefully I can remember this approach more than I did the initial one!

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