cuGraph Introduction#

The Data Scientist has a collection of techniques within their proverbial toolbox. Data engineering, statistical analysis, and machine learning are among the most commonly known. However, there are numerous cases where the focus of the analysis is on the relationship between data elements. In those cases, the data is best represented as a graph. Graph analysis, also called network analysis, is a collection of algorithms for answering questions posed against graph data. Graph analysis is not new.

The first graph problem was posed by Euler in 1736, the Seven Bridges of Konigsberg, and laid the foundation for the mathematical field of graph theory. The application of graph analysis covers a wide variety of fields, including marketing, biology, physics, computer science, sociology, and cyber to name a few.

RAPIDS cuGraph is a library of graph algorithms that seamlessly integrates into the RAPIDS data science ecosystem and allows the data scientist to easily call graph algorithms using data stored in a GPU DataFrame, NetworkX Graphs, or even CuPy or SciPy sparse Matrix.


The vision of RAPIDS cuGraph is to make graph analysis ubiquitous to the point that users just think in terms of analysis and not technologies or frameworks. This is a goal that many of us on the cuGraph team have been working on for almost twenty years. Many of the early attempts focused on solving one problem or using one technique. Those early attempts worked for the initial goal but tended to break as the scope changed (e.g., shifting to solving a dynamic graph problem with a static graph solution). The limiting factors usually came down to compute power, ease-of-use, or choosing a data structure that was not suited for all problems. NVIDIA GPUs, CUDA, and RAPIDS have totally changed the paradigm and the goal of an accelerated unified graph analytic library is now possible.

The compute power of the latest NVIDIA GPUs (RAPIDS supports Pascal and later GPU architectures) make graph analytics 1000x faster on average over NetworkX. Moreover, the internal memory speed within a GPU allows cuGraph to rapidly switch the data structure to best suit the needs of the analytic rather than being restricted to a single data structure. cuGraph is working with several frameworks for both static and dynamic graph data structures so that we always have a solution to any graph problem. Since Python has emerged as the de facto language for data science, allowing interactivity and the ability to run graph analytics in Python makes cuGraph familiar and approachable. RAPIDS wraps all the graph analytic goodness mentioned above with the ability to perform high-speed ETL, statistics, and machine learning. To make things even better, RAPIDS and DASK allows cuGraph to scale to multiple GPUs to support multi-billion edge graphs.


cuGraph is a collection of GPU accelerated graph algorithms and graph utility functions. The application of graph analysis covers a lot of areas. For Example:

cuGraph does not favor one field over another. Our developers span the breadth of fields with the focus being to produce the best graph library possible. However, each field has its own argot (jargon) for describing the graph (or network). In our documentation, we try to be consistent. In Python documentation we will mostly use the terms Node and Edge to better match NetworkX preferred term use, as well as other Python-based tools. At the CUDA/C layer, we favor the mathematical terms of Vertex and Edge.