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February 9, 2022

A Million Dollars Up for Grabs in TigerGraph Challenge

Are you sitting on a boatload of linked data, or have an innovative idea for a graph database? If so, then you might be interested in the $1 million in prize money that TigerGraph is putting up for grabs as part of its Graph for All Million Dollar Challenge.

Since bursting upon the graph database scene several years ago, TigerGraph has been turning heads with its distributed graph database, which marries the parallelism of an MPP database with an entity graph database. The company has attracted hundreds of customers, including big names like JPMorgan Chase and Land Rover, with its ability to query to 10 hops across graphs encompassing trillions of edges.

“We already have a lot of big customers using TigerGraph who are really getting a lot of business values from using the new graph technology,” TigerGraph founder and CEO Yu Xu tells Datanami. “So this got us to think, how we can make sure globally more people, more customers, are going to benefit from using graph technology?”

Graph is still relatively new, especially compared to traditional relational database technology. Many people don’t fully grasp the potential of graph technology, including graph analytics and machine learning techniques built upon graphs. TigerGraph has been vocal about promoting graph, but surely there’s some other way to jumpstart people’s imagination and get them thinking broader?

For Xu, it comes down to a basic tenet of human nature: Put your money where your mouth is, and people will take notice.

“We want to empower more people to be familiar with one of the best technologies, graph database, to think more creatively, to be more innovative, to solve bigger problems,” Xu says. “So that’s why we are creating this challenge. We are going to launch this to encourage people to pursue applications that going to be impactful, innovative and ambitious. We encourage people to think about how they can solve healthcare problems, how they can solve environmental problems, how they can make sure the water is better because of innovation, because they are using technology to connect data, to get deeper insights.”

Today marks the start of registration for the Graph for All Million Dollar Challenge. The submission deadline is April 20, and the winners will be announced on May 25 at TigerGraphs Graph + AI Summit.

There will be 15 winners sharing the $1 million purse, with the Grand Prize of $250,000 going to the overall winner. There will be first, second, and third place prizes granted to winners in four main categories, including Most Impactful, Most Innovative, Most Ambitious, and Most Applicable. There will also be a winner in the Woman Who Graph category, as well as one for Most Popular.

Unlike other big data or data science competitions that have set goals, the Graph for All Million Dollar Challenge is open ended, meaning people can define their own problems to solve. This is one of the more interesting aspects of the competition, but it also makes it more difficult to judge.

This is one reason why TigerGraph has amassed a world-class pool of 30 judges who will assess each submission against the guidelines of each particular prize category. The judge’s pool is split between 15 internal TigerGraph employees and 15 external judges who have expertise in pertinent areas.

The list of graph luminaries in the external judges pool includes folks like Usha Rengaraju, principle data scientist and founder of NeuroAI; Juan Sequeda, principal scientist at; Alexey Portnov, a research associate at the UT Institute for Geophysics; and James Pang Yan, associate professor at the National University of Singapore.

“TigerGraph’s challenge is structured to stretch the imagination of graph enthusiasts and test its limits,” stated Rengaraju, a two-time Kaggle Grand Master. “I’m excited to see teams coming together to create graph solutions that can impact society or shape the future for companies.”

The whole idea is to spur creativity with graph and find beneficial new ways for using graph, says Jay Yu, vice president of product and innovation for TigerGraph.

TigerGraph CEO and founder Yu Xu cut his teeth on graph tech at Teradata, Twitter, and UCSD

“The goal is advancing the whole society,” Yu says. “There’s some social good, but also commercial good, finance good–it’s all good. So as long it’s going help people, help business, we’re open.”

While some experience with using graph databases is probably helpful, it’s not necessarily a requirement to be a Kaggle-level expert. TigerGraph will provide a host of resources to people who register for the challenge, starting with spinning up free graph sandboxes on the Web, via TigerGraph Cloud. Depending on the details of the submission, the company may also provide expertise to help contestants.

“We also have a clause there that says, hey if you have ambitions beyond that limit we set there, you can write a proposal,” says Yu, who is one of the internal judges. “We’ll help you if your project is worth it. That’s why there’s a category called ambitious. That includes ‘I’m going to build the world’s largest graph ever.’ We’ll take a look at it and say hey, how close are you? We can work with you.”

TigerGraph’s graph database will be front and center in the challenge, and clearly the company will use the opportunity to promote its product. The company’s partners will also feature prominently. But TigerGraph execs says that, at its core, the Graph for All Million Dollar Challenge is more about promoting graph technology in general.

“Graph is still kind of young and new. A lot of people had perceptions and they don’t quite understand it,” Yu says. “It’s our job to basically expand understanding or evangelize graph. And also we have high confidence we are the best, leading tool–the most scalable, the easiest to use–so that people say, Oh, it’s not that hard. Oh, I can use it to solve these problems.”

The idea is to harness graph to lift all boats–from the end users and consultants working on graph problems to the builders providing software and hardware tools to the prize-money underwriters to society as a whole.

“It’s just a win-win-win situation for everybody,” Xu says. “The investment is going to be universal.”

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