At Columbia University virtual conference, masters ply the strange and beautiful art of knowledge graphs

Posted by ZDNet on May 07, 2020

A conference sponsored by Columbia University, turned virtual because of COVID-19, brought together practitioners of knowledge graphs, hoping to get a handle on the order that lies beneath the chaos of the world.

Alt Text A "knowledge graph" of the COVID-19 disease's many "strains" created by startup Each dot is a strain of COVID-19 or a family of COVID-19, the lines show how one strain descends from another. 2020

Everyone who has tried to figure out something has experienced the pleasure of seeing how things fit together — connecting the dots, or following the money, as they say.

One of the most fascinating technologies in vogue is a tool that can automate the process of making connections.

Called a knowledge graph, it gathers up all the data trapped in various databases and in emails and digital repositories of all sorts, and draws conclusions about how they fit together.

Some virtuosos of the knowledge graph were strutting their stuff this week at a conference held by Columbia University, the second annual Knowledge Graph Conference. Last year's meeting took place in the University's upper-Manhattan campus, while this year, because of COVID-19, it was virtual, streamed via Zoom. Question and answer sessions with speakers were lively on the accompanying Slack discussion channels.

The magic of knowledge graphs lies in their intuitive appeal: they represent things in the world as "nodes" in a network of connections, rather like the social network that has become familiar to most people in the form of Facebook. In a network, one thing over here is "linked" to that thing over there. A graph is simply the mathematical way to represent a network. As a graph, the network is represented visually in diagrams as a bunch of circles, the nodes, representing things in the world, and lines drawn between them, the "edges," representing the relationship of one thing to another thing. To read the full story, please click