Michal Bachman compares qualifying relationships versus using relationship properties, building on bidirectional relationships

In the last post of our “Neo4j Modelling for Beginners” series, we looked at bidirectional relationships. In this post, we compare the implications of qualifying relationships by using different relationship types versus using relationship properties.

Properties as Qualifiers
Let’s say we want to model movie ratings in Neo4j. People have an option to rate a movie with 1 to 5 stars. One way of modelling this, and perhaps the first one that springs into mind, is creating a RATED relationship with a rating property that takes on 5 different values: integers 1 though 5.

Relationship Types
Since we know all the possible relationship qualities up front, there is another option: using a separate relationship type for each rating. For example, we could define the following relationship types: LOVED, LIKED, NEUTRAL, DISLIKED, and HATED, corresponding to 5 stars down to 1 star, respectively. The above graph would then look as follows.

In terms of query syntax, there isn’t really all that much difference. If we had, for example, 10 different qualities of the relationship and wanted to query for 7 of them, one could argue the first approach is more convenient: it does not require listing all the relationship types we’re looking for.

Let us, however, explore the two approaches from a performance point of view. The first experiment is designed to find out, whether there are any write throughput differences between the two approaches. We created 1,000 relationships between random pairs of nodes and measured the time taken to do so. We varied the number of relationships created in a single transaction from 1 to 1,000.

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