In Search of the Universal Data Model

Nodes Room

For as long as people have been thinking about thinking, we have imagined that somewhere in the inner reaches of our minds there are ghostly, intangible things called ideas which can be linked together to create representations of the world around us — a world that has a certain structure, conforms to certain rules, and to a certain extent, can be predicted and manipulated on the basis of our ideas.

Rationalist philosophers have struggled for centuries to make a solid case for this intuitive, almost inborn view of human experience, but it is only with the advent of modern computing that we have the opportunity to build machines which truly think the way we think we think.

For the first time, we can give concrete form to our mental representations as graphs or hypergraphs, explicitly specify our mental schemas as ontologies, and formally define the rules by which we reason and act on new information. If we so choose, we can even use these human-like building blocks to construct systems that carry far more information than any single human brain, and that connect and serve millions of people in real time.

As enterprise knowledge graphs become increasingly mainstream, we appear to be headed in that direction, although there is no guarantee that the momentum will continue unless actively sustained. Where knowledge graphs are likely to be the most essential, in the long run, is at the interface between human and machine; mental representation versus formal knowledge representation.

In this talk, we will take a step back from the many practical and social challenges of building large-scale knowledge graphs, which at this point are well-known. Instead, we will take up the quest for an ideal data model for knowledge representation and data integration, seeking common ground among the most popular data models used in industry and open source software, surveying what we suspect to be true of our own inner models, and previewing structure and process in Apache TinkerPop, version 4. We will also take a tentative step forward into the world of augmented perception via graph stream processing.

Keynotes