Dgraph and Vector database - the best of two worlds

Dgraph and Knights Analytics discuss LLM Embeddings and Vector Databases for Augmented Information Retrieval

By combining Dgraph with a vector database, not only can you find the needle in the haystack, but also how much it costs, when it was lost, and who is actively looking for it!


Dgraph interviewed Knights Analytics to learn from their experience building products that combine LLMs and Dgraph. They shared their strategies for creating intelligent and adaptive search by augmenting graph traversals with vector embeddings.

The goal

Fuzzy matching has always been a big topic in search and discovery tasks, and is often at odds with structured databases who often rely on keys and concrete connections across data to surface aggregations and insights.

Dgraph stores data as you think about it: a network of interconnected pieces of information, a Graph! It excels at handling “relationships” among your data. On the other hand LLMs offer flexibility and can convert text into “embeddings” - numerical vectors representing the semantic meaning of a chunk of text or an entire document.

In this blog we will show how you can combine the power and intelligence of LLMs with the structured, highly navigable related data stored in Dgraph to create a powerful “Association Graph” with association links, into the unique GraphQL + Graph Database technology of Dgraph. The result is a new kind of graph that goes beyond “knowledge” and into “associations”.

Sample use case

In a recent post we explored how to use word embeddings in Dgraph to make your data smarter and implement automatic classification.

In our use case, projects are associated to categories using word embeddings.

We are now extending this approach to include “associations” based on semantic similarities and implement semantic search.

The embedding generated by OpenAI API for a given text, is a vector of floating point numbers. The vector is of dimension 1536 when using the model text-embedding-ada-002.

The distance between two vectors happens to measure a semantic proximity between two texts.

Vectors similarity search and graph

A vector database is the perfect technology to store vectors and search similar vectors using distance computation.

We will use Qdrant, who presents itself as “a vector similarity search engine”.

The combination of Dgraph and a vector search engine is a very effective and flexible solution:

  • Dgraph is the perfect backend to make sense of your interconnected data and to expose a native GraphQL API.
  • Dgraph stores everything you know for a fact: your source of truth.
  • Nodes in Dgraph can be associated with a vectors, computed from word or graph embedding.
  • The vector similarity search engine is used to find instances of similar vectors.
  • Similar vectors can then be used to query Dgraph database and retrieve all we know about the similar nodes.

This is a good approach to mix reliable and curated information (your knowledge graph) with AI inferred, or guessed relationships (associations).

Dgraph can also store metadata about a relationship like a similarity score or the AI model used to infer it, providing a full data lineage.

Facts and inferred knowledge

Hands on with Dgraph

If you want to try this out yourself, the easiest way to get Dgraph up and running is to signup for Dgraph Cloud and launch a free backend.

Data model

Let’s stay with our Projects from the data classification post.

Dgraph automatically generates get, query, aggregate, add, update, and delete operations for every type in your GraphQL schema.

It also allows you to define custom queries and mutations.

In our schema, we are defining semSearchProject query. The @lambda directive instructs Dgraph to use a custom logic.

type Project @lambdaOnMutate(add: true, update: false, delete: false) {
  id: ID!
  title: String!  @search(by: [term])
  grade: String @search(by: [hash])
  category: Category
  score: Float
type Category @lambdaOnMutate(add: true, update: false, delete: false) {
  id: ID!
  name: String!

type Query {
    semSearchProjects(title: String!, first: Int!): [Project] @lambda

We have already used the directive @lambdaOnMutate to trigger the logic of computing the embeddings for projects title and catgories name.

Copy this schema in the Dgraph Cloud dashboard and deploy it.

Open AI integration

We are using OpenAI API to compute the embeddings.

  • Go to OpenAI Platform website and sign in.
  • Click your profile icon at the top-right corner of the page and select “View API Keys.”
  • Click “Create New Secret Key” to generate a new API key.

Keep a copy of the key as we will use it to invoke OpenAI REST API from Dgraph.

Qdrant integration

We are using Qdrant as our vector similarity search engine.

Keep a copy of the cluster URL and API key as we will use them to invoke Qdrant REST API from Dgraph.

Create a collection

Create a collection named dgraph that will hosts our vectors.

You need to specify the vectors size: OpenAI embeddings vectors for text-embedding-ada-002 model are of size 1536.

You also need to specify the distance function. Let’s use dot product.

curl -X  PUT '{{Qdrant-cluster-endpoint}}/collections/dgraph' \
-H 'api-key: {{Qdrant-key}}' \
-H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
--data-raw '{
    "vectors": {
      "size": 1536,
      "distance": "Dot"

Semantic search logic


Every time a Category or Project is created,

  • compute an embedding for the project title or category name
  • save the embedding in the Vector database with the same id as the Dgraph node.
  • attached a simple payload containing only the node type, so we can filter by type when searching similar vectors.


We can simplify the logic that we have used in the previous post and use the vector database API to search for similar vectors. The vectors ID returned correspond to Dgraph node UIDs, from there we can query / mutate the Dgraph data as needed.

Semantic search of Projects

  • compute an embedding for the search text
  • find similar vectors of type Project
  • use Dgraph query language to get the data for the projects ids.
  • return the Project objects to the GraphQL operation

Dgraph lambda

Dgraph lambda provides a way to write custom logic in JavaScript, integrate it with your GraphQL schema, and execute it using the GraphQL API.

The following section of the GraphQL schema is defining a custom query semSearchProjects:

type Query {
    semSearchProjects(title: String!, first: Int!): [Project] @lambda

We are using @lambda directive to indicate a lambda query.

Lambda code

Here is the complete code of our lambda.

  • Copy-paste in the Script section of Dgraph lambda configuration
  • set your URLs and keys.
  • and save.
const OPENAI_KEY = "<---- YOUR OPENAI API KEY ---->"
const QDRANT_KEY = "<---- YOUR QDRANT KEY ---->"
const QDRANT_COLLECTION = "dgraph"

async function saveVector(nodetype,uid,vec) {
  let url = QDRANT_CLUSTER_URL+"/collections/"+QDRANT_COLLECTION+"/points?wait=true";
  let body = `{ "points": [ { "id":${BigInt(uid).toString()}, "vector":[${vec}], "payload": { "type": "${nodetype}"} } ] }`
  return  fetch(url,{
    method: "PUT",
    headers: {
      "Content-Type": "application/json",
      "api-key": QDRANT_KEY
    body: body
  // use response.status and await response.json() if needed
async function searchSimilarity(vec,nodetype,limit=10) {
  data = []
  try {
    let url = QDRANT_CLUSTER_URL+"/collections/"+QDRANT_COLLECTION+"/points/search?wait=true";
    let body = `{
      "vector" : [${vec}],
      "filter" : {
              "must" : [ {
                  "match": {
      let response = await fetch(url,{
        method: "POST",
        headers: {
          "Content-Type": "application/json",
          "api-key": QDRANT_KEY
        body: body
      // we cannot use json parse because id are BigInt
      // build the response containing an array of  id and score by parsing the response text
      let resp = await response.text()
      let r1 = /"id":(?<id>\d+)/g
      let r2 = /"score":(?<score>\d*.\d*)/g

      while ((m=r1.exec(resp)) != null) {
        data.push( {
          "id":'0x' + BigInt(m.groups['id']).toString(16)
      let i = 0
      while ((m=r2.exec(resp)) != null) {
      // console.log(`Qdrant result: ${JSON.stringify(data)}`)
    } catch (error) {
    return data // array with id and score
async function mutateRDF(dql,rdfs) {
  // Use DQL mutation to store the rdfs  
  if (rdfs !== "") {
        return dql.mutate(`{
                set {
async function embedding(text) {
  let url = `https://api.openai.com/v1/embeddings`;
  let response = await fetch(url,{
    method: "POST",
    headers: {
      "Content-Type": "application/json",
      "Authorization": "Bearer "+OPENAI_KEY
    body: `{ "input": "${text}", "model": "text-embedding-ada-002" }`
  let data = await response.json();
  console.log(`embedding = ${data.data[0].embedding}`)
  return data.data[0].embedding;

async function addProjectWebhook({event, dql, graphql, authHeader}) {
  var rdfs = "";
  for (let i = 0; i < event.add.rootUIDs.length; ++i ) {
    console.log(`adding embedding for Project ${event.add.rootUIDs[i]} ${event.add.input[i]['title']}`)
    var uid = event.add.rootUIDs[i];
    const v1 = await embedding(event.add.input[i].title);
    await saveVector("Project",uid,v1);
    if  (event.add.input[i]['category'] == undefined) { 
      // if the project is added without category
      similarCategories = await searchSimilarity(v1,"Category",1);
      console.log(`set closest category to ${similarCategories[0].id}`) 
      rdfs += `<${uid}> <Project.category> <${similarCategories[0].id}> .
    } else {
      console.log(`Project ${event.add.rootUIDs[i]} added with category ${event.add.input[i]['category'].name}`)
  await mutateRDF(dql,rdfs);  
async function addCategoryWebhook({event, dql, graphql, authHeader}) {
    var rdfs = "";
    // webhook may receive an array of UIDs
    // apply the same logic for each node
    for (let i = 0; i < event.add.rootUIDs.length; ++i ) {
        console.log(`adding embedding for ${event.add.rootUIDs[i]} ${event.add.input[i]['name']}`)
        const uid = event.add.rootUIDs[i];
        // retrieve the embedding for the category name
        const data = await embedding(event.add.input[i]['name']);
        await saveVector("Category",uid,data);
async function semSearchProjects({args, dql}) {
    // semantic search Projects
    // get vector
    const v1 = await embedding(args.title);
    const limit = args.first;
    // find similar Project
    const projects = await searchSimilarity(v1,"Project",limit);

    ids = projects.map( (p)=> '0x'+BigInt(p.id).toString(16))
    scores = {}
    projects.forEach( (p)=> { scores['0x'+BigInt(p.id).toString(16)]=p.score})
    const query = `{
        projects(func:uid(${ids})) {
            title: Project.title
            category:Project.category { id:uid name:Category.name}
    const results = await dql.query(query)
    results.data.projects.forEach( (p)=>{ p.score = scores[p.id]})
    return [results.data.projects]

   "Project.add": addProjectWebhook,
   "Category.add": addCategoryWebhook,
   "Query.semSearchProjects": semSearchProjects

Let’s examine what’s new in this code compared to previous post.

   "Project.add": addProjectWebhook,
   "Category.add": addCategoryWebhook,
   "Query.semSearchProjects": semSearchProjects

Registers the JS functions for each operations declared in the @lambdaOnMutate directives and for the @lambda query.

async function saveVector(nodetype,uid,vec)

Use the Qdrant API to save the embedding. We use the Dgraph node uid as the vector id in Qdrant.

Dgraph UIDs are hexadecimal strings and Qdrant ids are big integer. We need to perform the conversion back and forth.

The payload attached to the vector is reduced to the node type information. We don’t need to store more data as all the information about the node is in Dgraph.

async function searchSimilarity(vec,nodetype,limit=10)

simply uses the /points/search Qdrant API and returns the list of id and score.


Adding some data

We can now add some categories using the GraphQL API generated by Dgraph from the GraphQL schema.

In GraphQL explorer, paste the following query:

mutation addCategory($input: [AddCategoryInput!]!) {
  addCategory(input: $input) {
    category {

Paste the following JSON in the variables section

 "input": [
   {"name":"Math & Science"},
   {"name":"Health & Sports"},
   {"name": "History & Civics"},
   {"name": "Literacy & Language"},
   {"name": "Music & The Arts"},
   {"name": "Special Needs"}

Execute the mutation.

Use the following mutation to add projects:

mutation NewProjectMutation($input: [AddProjectInput!]!) {
  addProject(input: $input) {

with the variables

  "input": [
    {"title": "Multi-Use Chairs for Music Classes"},
    {"title": "Photography and Memories....Yearbook in the Works"},
    {"title": "Current Events in Second Grade"},
    {"title": "Great Green Garden Gables"},
    {"title": "Albert.io Prepares South LA students for AP Success!"},
    {"title": "Learning and Growing Through Collaborative Play in TK!"},
    {"title": "Sit Together, Learn Together, Grow Together!"},
    {"title": "Help Special Children Succeed with Social Skills!"},
    {"title": "iCreate with a Mini iPad"},
    {"title": "Photography and Memories....Yearbook in the Works"},
    {"title": "The Truth About Junk Food"},
    {"title": "I Can Listen"},
    {"title": "Making Math A Group Learning Experience"},
    {"title": "The Center Of Learning: Kindergarten Fun!"}

Verifying the auto-classification

In the Data Studio you can see the projects created and the category associated with each project.

Projects have category in Data studio

In GraphQL explorer, experience with the semSearchProjects query.

query MyQuery {
  semSearchProjects(first: 1, title: "project related to eating habits") {
    category {

The result should be the project “The Truth About Junk Food”.

Play with more data, ask for more results, and check the scores.

result of a semantic search query


With the ease of use of GraphQL API generation and the power of JavaScript custom resolvers (Dgraph lambda), boosting your graph data with AI is an easy task in Dgraph.

In this Blog, we showed how to leverage OpenAI API to compute word embeddings when data is added to Dgraph, and to use a Vector database to implement a semantic search of nodes in the graph. In conjunction with the Dgraph query language, this approach allows you to implement sophisticated use cases.

About Knights Analytics

Knights Analytics are experts in AI and Data Management, they have been a partner of Dgraph for over 4 years.

Knights’ enterprise Alchemia platform streams data from structured and unstructured sources into Dgraph while cleaning, matching and merging entities and concepts to form a richly connected graph.

Their Alchemia platform processes all types of data, and they have developed a range of AI tooling to clean, enrich, and resolve entities (individuals, companies etc) or concepts (events, topics etc) into a knowledge graph, matching incoming data with ground truth ontologies.

Check them out here: www.knightsanalytics.com

Photo by NASA