Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Dr. Rajshekhar Sunderraman

Second Advisor

Dr. Yingshu Li

Third Advisor

Dr. Yanqing Zhang

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Hendricus Van der Holst


Graph databases offer an efficient way to store and access inter-connected data. However, to query large graphs that no longer fit in memory, it becomes necessary to make multiple trips to the storage device to filter and gather data based on the query. But I/O accesses are expensive operations and immensely slow down query response time and prevent us from fully exploiting the graph specific benefits that graph databases offer.

The storage models of most existing graph database systems view graphs as indivisible structures and hence do not allow a hierarchical layering of the graph. This adversely affects query performance for large graphs as there is no way to filter the graph on a higher level without actually accessing the entire information from the disk. Distributing the storage and processing is one way to extract better performance. But current distributed solutions to this problem are not entirely effective, again due to the indivisible representation of graphs adopted in the storage format. This causes unnecessary latency due to increased inter-processor communication.

In this dissertation, we propose an optimized distributed graph storage system for scalable and faster querying of big graph data. We start with our unique physical storage model, in which the graph is decomposed into three different levels of abstraction, each with a different storage hierarchy. We use a hybrid storage model to store the most critical component and restrict the I/O trips to only when absolutely necessary. This lets us actively make use of multi-level filters while querying, without the need of comprehensive indexes. Our results show that our system outperforms established graph databases for several class of queries. We show that this separation also eases the difficulties in distributing graph data and go on propose a more efficient distributed model for querying general purpose graph data using the Spark framework.