[Haskell-cafe] OT: representations for graphs

Bayley, Alistair Alistair.Bayley at invesco.com
Fri Dec 19 12:07:59 EST 2008

(OT, but I'm hoping some of you might have some ideas on this anyway...)

I was wondering what alternative representations there are for graphs,
or maybe if there might be a way to derive one/some from some insightful
observations. For the purposes of storing and exmaining (querying)
graphs in an SQL database.

For example, a tree (so, a specialised sub-class of graph) can be
represented by a three models, that I know of:
 - adjacency-list (the most common)
 - materialised-path (a denormalisation of adjacency-list)
 - nested-sets

Nested-sets (and materialised-path) works for trees because the graph is
 - directed (so we know which nodes are parents or children)
 - acyclic (there's a definite root, and leaves)
 - every child has a single parent (so no diamond shapes - does this
property have a name?)

Nested-sets works well with SQL databases for querying, at the expense
of updates. Adjacency-list is easier to update, but some queries suck,
or are downright impossible in normal SQL.

We can use the adjacency-list model for graphs too, but it has the same
query deficiencies as for trees. I'd like some sort of alternative to
adjacency-list, like nested-sets, that would work better for querying at
the expense of updates.

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