2021 Knowledge Graph Conference Recap

The 2021 Knowledge Graph Conference, held online May 3–6, had over 1,000 people attending. Special thanks to all of the 20+ people who volunteered to assist with the conference!

We have the results from an audience poll about which parts they liked best, and also from an informal poll among the people who helped organize events. There are recordings for every tutorial, keynote, session talk, panel, etc. — resulting in 100 hours of videos. That’s a lot of content, and so far we really don’t know of anyone who’s been through the whole collection… https://knowledgegraphconference.vhx.tv/ Here’s your opportunity to become the first person to view THE ENTIRETY of KGC 2021. 😍 In any case, we’ll summarize a few of the highlights here, with pointers to the whole catalog. Tiernan Ray described the conference in ZDnet, “The Knowledge Graph expands as discipline’s conference spreads its wings”:

“What began in 2019 as a two-day gathering in a ballroom has turned into a global event for those in love with graphing relationships.”

Hands down, the top pick was the keynote talk “From Network Medicine to Food and Knowledge Graphs” by Albert-László Barabási, who also received the KGC 2021 Award for contributions to the field of Network Science. His tour-de-force keynote reviewed the Foodome project, a research collaboration across Harvard, Northeastern, Boston University, and other institutions to solve cross-disciplinary problems. For example, the USDA only tracks 150 key nutritional components, while there are more than 26,000 distinct, definable biochemicals present in our food sources. To address that, Foodome uses a large KG to map foods to ingredients and their chemical composition, plus linking to known interactions among proteins for both gut biome and human biome. Many of the “lesser” nutritional components — i.e., mostly ignored by USDA and others — have been shown to interact in significant pathways that lead to diseases. Foodome has pioneered “network medicine” where graph technology predicts novel biochemical pathways that are subsequently confirmed through laboratory work. Related KG approaches to drive life science experimentation are employed in other areas of Pharma research, such as drug discovery — for instance “Connecting the Dots in Early Drug Discovery at Novartis” by Stephan Reiling at GraphConnect 2018, and overall KG adoption is growing in this business vertical. For more details about the Foodome project, see their Nature paper:

“The unmapped chemical complexity of our diet”
Albert-László Barabási, Giulia Menichetti , Joseph Loscalzo
Nature Food 1, 33–37 (2020)
open access: https://barabasi.com/f/1055.pdf

Allison DeLozier, The Sketch Effect

Another popular keynote by Zhamak Dehghani of ThoughtWorks presented “Introduction to Data Mesh: A paradigm shift in managing analytical data”. Zhamak founded the concept of Data Mesh in 2018 — a paradigm shift in big data management toward data decentralization, which has gained remarkable popularity. Think: service mesh is to microservices as data mesh is to distributed data assets, and both have much bearing on business culture. The interaction of knowledge graph and data mesh in contemporary data architectures has been trending as one of our more popular discussion topics.

Later in the same day, another top pick was the “Panel Discussion on Data Architecture,” led by data.world Principal Scientist and KGC co-chair Juan Sequeda, along with Zhamak Dehghani, Teresa Tung from Accenture, and Jay Yu from Intuit.

Allison DeLozier, The Sketch Effect

Among other top picks, without question, we had a rather impromptu — albeit highly anticipated and utterly fascinating — lounge table discussion with Conor White-Sullivan, founder of Roam Research. For the full deets, see “Collective Intelligence at the Knowledge Graph Conference” by Thomas Deely. As some have noted, this far-reaching discussion included multiple invocations of computing pioneer Doug Engelbart. If you haven’t seen it before, please go check out the 1968 “Mother of All Demos,” which invented desktop computing, previewed the Internet, and so much more — all in one concise demo. For a brillant James Burke-esque backstory, see Mark Pesce’s “1968: When the World Began” podcast interview series. Then check out Roam for an astounding “How it started / How it’s going” comparison. One favorite line from Conor’s lounge table discussion:

“We are the DVD mailing stage of this…”

A fifth highlight for this newsletter edition is to recommend the new 2021 Knowledge Graph Industry Survey, an examination of the practices and priorities driving knowledge technology. The report authors — Michael Atkin, Thomas Deely, François Scharffe — presented an overview of the survey results, and you can download the full report from Zenodo at https://zenodo.org/record/4950097#.YOiCS-jYpPY (yes, we use persistent identifiers!). This survey provides key insights about knowledge graph adoption in industry: drivers, growth inhibitors, use cases, primary executive sponsors, success criteria, and so on. In particular, results from the KG maturity section provide an especially helpful “instrument” for comparing the stage of any given KG practice with the industry in general. Look for the Four Key Takeaways as you’re preparing your BoD-level proposal for FY2022 funding!

Allison DeLozier, The Sketch Effect

Other prizes were awarded this year at the Startup Pitch Event. Check out this video for a showcase of new ventures in the graph space. Congratulations to each team participating, and especially to our award winners:

There are also some editorial clips from the conference, if you’d like to check these: Ching-Hua Chen’s summary of the Personal Healthcare Knowledge Graph workshop, Mike Welch from Verizon discussing AWS Neptune, and Alan Morrison’s workgroup on Personal Knowledge Graph.

So many kudos are so well deserved, although we want to show heartfelt appreciation to Ellie Young and the leadership team for organizing, above and beyond the call of duty. Also to Larry Swanson for hosting the community networking events on Ohyay, plus the nearly unimaginable — albeit dearly unforgettable — online Presentation Karaoke event. Life will never quite be the same, although the video proof seems to be mysteriously missing from the archives 🤔

Many thanks to our sponsors:

  • Lead Partner: Accenture
  • Diamond: Katana Graph
  • Platinum: Cambridge Semantics
  • Gold: Lymba, DataStax, Origin Trail, Brighthive, Ontotext, Oracle, Semantic Web/PoolParty
  • Silver: Fluree, relationalAI, Amazon Neptune, data.world, Stardog, Franz
  • Bronze: Enterprise Knowledge Graph Foundation (EKGF), TerminusDB, Derwen.ai
  • Founding Partners: TigerGraph, Collibra, Ontotext

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Paco Nathan

Paco Nathan

evil mad sci, derwen.ai/paco ; lives on an apple orchard in Ecotopia