Neo4j Query Language Cypher - neo4j tutorial - graph database

What is Cypher Query Language in Neo4j?

  • Neo4j has its own query language called Cypher. Cypher uses a similar syntax to SQL (Structured Query Language).
  • Cypher is designed to be a humane query language, suitable for both developers and (importantly, we think) operations professionals.
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  • Here's an example of a Cypher statement:
MATCH (p:Person { name:"Homer Flinstone" })
  • This Cypher statement returns a "Person" node where the name property is "Homer Flinstone".
  • If this was SQL querying a relational database, it might look more like this:
WHERE name = "Homer Flinstone";
  • However, remember, Neo4j doesn't store its data in tables like the relational database model. It's all in nodes and relationships.
  • So the Cypher query above is querying nodes, their labels, and their properties. The SQL example on the other hand, is querying tables, rows, and columns.
  • Query time is reported in the tabular view, don’t rely on that exact timing though it includes the latency and (de-)serialization costs, not just the actual query execution time.
  • SQL was designed to be used with relational database management systems (DBMS). Neo4j is a NoSQL DBMS, in that it doesn't use the relational model and it doesn't use SQL.
  • Cypher was designed specifically for working with the Neo4j data model, which is all about nodes and their relationships with each other.

ASCII-Art Syntax

  • Cypher uses ASCII-Art to represent schemas. This is a usual thing to remember when first learning the language. If you forget how to write something, just visualize how the graph will look and it should help.
  • The main things to remember:
    • Nodes are represented by parentheses, which look like circles. Like this: (node)
    • Relationships are represented by arrows. Like this: ->
    • Information about a relationship can be inserted between square brackets. Like this: [:KNOWS]
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Defining the Data

  • Here are some more points to remember when working with Cypher:
    • Nodes usually have labels. Examples could include "Person", "User", "Actor", "Employee", "Customer".
    • Nodes usually have properties. Properties provide extra information about the node. Examples could include "Name", "Age", "Born", etc
    • Relationships can also have properties.
    • Relationships usually have a type (this is basically like a node's label). Examples could include "KNOWS", "LIKES", "WORKS_FOR", "PURCHASED", etc.
  • So looking at the above example again:
MATCH (p:Person { name:"Homer Flinstone" })
  • We can see that:
    • The node is surrounded by parentheses ().
    • Person is the node's label.
    • name is a property of the node.

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