Tuning Gremlin queries using explain and profile - Amazon Neptune
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Tuning Gremlin queries using explain and profile

You can often tune your Gremlin queries in Amazon Neptune to get better performance, using the information available to you in the reports you get from the Neptune explain and profile APIs. To do so, it helps to understand how Neptune processes Gremlin traversals.

Important

A change was made in TinkerPop version 3.4.11 that improves correctness of how queries are processed, but for the moment can sometimes seriously impact query performance.

For example, a query of this sort may run significantly slower:

g.V().hasLabel('airport'). order(). by(out().count(),desc). limit(10). out()

The vertices after the limit step are now fetched in a non-optimal way beause of the TinkerPop 3.4.11 change. To avoid this, you can modify the query by adding the barrier() step at any point after the order().by(). For example:

g.V().hasLabel('airport'). order(). by(out().count(),desc). limit(10). barrier(). out()

TinkerPop 3.4.11 was enabled in Neptune engine version 1.0.5.0.

Understanding Gremlin traversal processing in Neptune

When a Gremlin traversal is sent to Neptune, there are three main processes that transform the traversal into an underlying execution plan for the engine to execute. These are parsing, conversion, and optimization:

3 processes transform a Gremlin query into an execution
        plan.

The traversal parsing process

The first step in processing a traversal is to parse it into a common language. In Neptune, that common language is the set of TinkerPop steps that are part of the TinkerPop API. Each of these steps represents a unit of computation within the traversal.

You can send a Gremlin traversal to Neptune either as a string or as bytecode. The REST endpoint and the Java client driver submit() method send traversals as strings, as in this example:

client.submit("g.V()")

Applications and language drivers using Gremlin language variants (GLV) send traversals in bytecode.

The traversal conversion process

The second step in processing a traversal is to convert its TinkerPop steps into a set of converted and non-converted Neptune steps. Most steps in the Apache TinkerPop Gremlin query language are converted to Neptune-specific steps that are optimized to run on the underlying Neptune engine. When a TinkerPop step without a Neptune equivalent is encountered in a traversal, that step and all subsequent steps in the traversal are processed by the TinkerPop query engine.

For more information about what steps can be converted under what circumstances, see Gremlin step support.

The traversal optimization process

The final step in traversal processing is to run the series of converted and non-converted steps through the optimizer, to try to determine the best execution plan. The output of this optimization is the execution plan that the Neptune engine processes.

Using the Neptune Gremlin explain API to tune queries

The Neptune explain API is not the same as the Gremlin explain() step. It returns the final execution plan that the Neptune engine would process when executing the query. Because it does not perform any processing, it returns the same plan regardless of the parameters used, and its output contains no statistics about actual execution.

Consider the following simple traversal that finds all the airport vertices for Anchorage:

g.V().has('code','ANC')

There are two ways you can run this traversal through the Neptune explain API. The first way is to make a REST call to the explain endpoint, like this:

curl -X POST https://your-neptune-endpoint:port/gremlin/explain -d '{"gremlin":"g.V().has('code','ANC')"}'

The second way is to use the Neptune workbench's %%gremlin cell magic with the explain parameter. This passes the traversal contained in the cell body to the Neptune explain API and then displays the resulting output when you run the cell:

%%gremlin explain g.V().has('code','ANC')

The resulting explain API output describes Neptune's execution plan for the traversal. As you can see in the image below, the plan includes each of the 3 steps in the processing pipeline:

Explain API output for a simple Gremlin traversal.

Tuning a traversal by looking at steps that are not converted

One of the first things to look for in the Neptune explain API output is for Gremlin steps that are not converted to Neptune native steps. In a query plan, when a step is encountered that cannot be converted to a Neptune native step, it and all subsequent steps in the plan are processed by the Gremlin server.

In the example above, all steps in the traversal were converted. Let's examine explain API output for this traversal:

g.V().has('code','ANC').out().choose(hasLabel('airport'), values('code'), constant('Not an airport'))

As you can see in the image below, Neptune could not convert the choose() step:

Explain API output in which not all steps can be converted.

There are several things you could do to tune the performance of the traversal. The first would be to rewrite it in such a way as to eliminate the step that could not be converted. Another would be to move the step to the end of the traversal so that all other steps can be converted to native ones.

A query plan with steps that are not converted does not always need to be tuned. If the steps that cannot be converted are at the end of the traversal, and are related to how output is formatted rather than how the graph is traversed, they may have little effect on performance.

Another thing to look for when examining output from the Neptune explain API is steps that do not use indexes. The following traversal finds all airports with flights that land in Anchorage:

g.V().has('code','ANC').in().values('code')

Output from the explain API for this traversal is:

******************************************************* Neptune Gremlin Explain ******************************************************* Query String ============ g.V().has('code','ANC').in().values('code') Original Traversal ================== [GraphStep(vertex,[]), HasStep([code.eq(ANC)]), VertexStep(IN,vertex), PropertiesStep([code],value)] Converted Traversal =================== Neptune steps: [ NeptuneGraphQueryStep(PropertyValue) { JoinGroupNode { PatternNode[(?1, <~label>, ?2, <~>) . project distinct ?1 .] PatternNode[(?1, <code>, "ANC", ?) . project ask .] PatternNode[(?3, ?5, ?1, ?6) . project ?1,?3 . IsEdgeIdFilter(?6) .] PatternNode[(?3, <~label>, ?4, <~>) . project ask .] PatternNode[(?3, ?7, ?8, <~>) . project ?3,?8 . ContainsFilter(?7 in (<code>)) .] }, annotations={path=[Vertex(?1):GraphStep, Vertex(?3):VertexStep, PropertyValue(?8):PropertiesStep], maxVarId=9} }, NeptuneTraverserConverterStep ] Optimized Traversal =================== Neptune steps: [ NeptuneGraphQueryStep(PropertyValue) { JoinGroupNode { PatternNode[(?1, <code>, "ANC", ?) . project ?1 .], {estimatedCardinality=1} PatternNode[(?3, ?5, ?1, ?6) . project ?1,?3 . IsEdgeIdFilter(?6) .], {estimatedCardinality=INFINITY} PatternNode[(?3, ?7=<code>, ?8, <~>) . project ?3,?8 .], {estimatedCardinality=7564} }, annotations={path=[Vertex(?1):GraphStep, Vertex(?3):VertexStep, PropertyValue(?8):PropertiesStep], maxVarId=9} }, NeptuneTraverserConverterStep ] Predicates ========== # of predicates: 26 WARNING: reverse traversal with no edge label(s) - .in() / .both() may impact query performance

The WARNING message at the bottom of the output occurs because the in() step in the traversal cannot be handled using one of the 3 indexes that Neptune maintains (see How Statements Are Indexed in Neptune and Gremlin statements in Neptune). Because the in() step contains no edge filter, it cannot be resolved using the SPOG, POGS or GPSO index. Instead, Neptune must perform a union scan to find the requested vertices, which is much less efficient.

There are two ways to tune the traversal in this situation. The first is to add one or more filtering criteria to the in() step so that an indexed lookup can be used to resolve the query. For the example above, this might be:

g.V().has('code','ANC').in('route').values('code')

Output from the Neptune explain API for the revised traversal no longer contains the WARNING message:

******************************************************* Neptune Gremlin Explain ******************************************************* Query String ============ g.V().has('code','ANC').in('route').values('code') Original Traversal ================== [GraphStep(vertex,[]), HasStep([code.eq(ANC)]), VertexStep(IN,[route],vertex), PropertiesStep([code],value)] Converted Traversal =================== Neptune steps: [ NeptuneGraphQueryStep(PropertyValue) { JoinGroupNode { PatternNode[(?1, <~label>, ?2, <~>) . project distinct ?1 .] PatternNode[(?1, <code>, "ANC", ?) . project ask .] PatternNode[(?3, ?5, ?1, ?6) . project ?1,?3 . IsEdgeIdFilter(?6) . ContainsFilter(?5 in (<route>)) .] PatternNode[(?3, <~label>, ?4, <~>) . project ask .] PatternNode[(?3, ?7, ?8, <~>) . project ?3,?8 . ContainsFilter(?7 in (<code>)) .] }, annotations={path=[Vertex(?1):GraphStep, Vertex(?3):VertexStep, PropertyValue(?8):PropertiesStep], maxVarId=9} }, NeptuneTraverserConverterStep ] Optimized Traversal =================== Neptune steps: [ NeptuneGraphQueryStep(PropertyValue) { JoinGroupNode { PatternNode[(?1, <code>, "ANC", ?) . project ?1 .], {estimatedCardinality=1} PatternNode[(?3, ?5=<route>, ?1, ?6) . project ?1,?3 . IsEdgeIdFilter(?6) .], {estimatedCardinality=32042} PatternNode[(?3, ?7=<code>, ?8, <~>) . project ?3,?8 .], {estimatedCardinality=7564} }, annotations={path=[Vertex(?1):GraphStep, Vertex(?3):VertexStep, PropertyValue(?8):PropertiesStep], maxVarId=9} }, NeptuneTraverserConverterStep ] Predicates ========== # of predicates: 26

Another option if you are running many traversals of this kind is to run them in a Neptune DB cluster that has the optional OSGP index enabled (see Enabling an OSGP Index). Enabling an OSGP index has drawbacks:

  • It must be enabled in a DB cluster before any data is loaded.

  • Insertion rates for vertices and edges may slow by up to 23%.

  • Storage usage will increase by around 20%.

  • Read queries that scatter requests across all indexes may have increased latencies.

Having an OSGP index makes a lot of sense for a restricted set of query patterns, but unless you are running those frequently, it is usually preferable to try to ensure that the traversals you write can be resolved using the three primary indexes.

Using a large number of predicates

Neptune treats each edge label and each distinct vertex or edge property name in your graph as a predicate, and is designed by default to work with a relatively low number of distinct predicates. When you have more than a few thousand predicates in your graph data, performance can degrade.

Neptune explain output will warn you if this is the case:

Predicates ========== # of predicates: 9549 WARNING: high predicate count (# of distinct property names and edge labels)

If it is not convenient to rework your data model to reduce the number of labels and properties, and therefore the number of predicates, the best way to tune traversals is to run them in a DB cluster that has the OSGP index enabled, as discussed above.

Using the Neptune Gremlin profile API to tune traversals

The Neptune profile API is quite different from the Gremlin profile() step. Like the explain API, its output includes the query plan that the Neptune engine uses when executing the traversal. In addition, the profile output includes actual execution statistics for the traversal, given how its parameters are set.

Again, take the simple traversal that finds all airport vertices for Anchorage:

g.V().has('code','ANC')

As with the explain API, you can invoke the profile API using a REST call:

curl -X POST https://your-neptune-endpoint:port/gremlin/profile -d '{"gremlin":"g.V().has('code','ANC')"}'

You use also the Neptune workbench's %%gremlin cell magic with the profile parameter. This passes the traversal contained in the cell body to the Neptune profile API and then displays the resulting output when you run the cell:

%%gremlin profile g.V().has('code','ANC')

The resulting profile API output contains both Neptune's execution plan for the traversal and statistics about the plan's execution, as you can see in this image:

An example of Neptune profile API output.

In profile output, the execution plan section only contains the final execution plan for the traversal, not the intermediate steps. The pipeline section contains the physical pipeline operations that were performed as well as the actual time (in milliseconds) that traversal execution took. The runtime metric is extremely helpful in comparing the times that two different versions of a traversal take as you are optimizing them.

Note

The initial runtime of a traversal is generally longer than subsequent runtimes, because the first one causes the relevant data to be cached.

The third section of the profile output contains execution statistics and the results of the traversal. To see how this information can be useful in tuning a traversal, consider the following traversal, which finds every airport whose name begins with "Anchora", and all the airports reachable in two hops from those airports, returning airport codes, flight routes, and distances:

%%gremlin profile g.withSideEffect("Neptune#fts.endpoint", "{your-OpenSearch-endpoint-URL"). V().has("city", "Neptune#fts Anchora~"). repeat(outE('route').inV().simplePath()).times(2). project('Destination', 'Route'). by('code'). by(path().by('code').by('dist'))

Traversal metrics in Neptune profile API output

The first set of metrics that is available in all profile output is the traversal metrics. These are similar to the Gremlin profile() step metrics, with a few differences:

Traversal Metrics ================= Step Count Traversers Time (ms) % Dur ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- NeptuneGraphQueryStep(Vertex) 3856 3856 91.701 9.09 NeptuneTraverserConverterStep 3856 3856 38.787 3.84 ProjectStep([Destination, Route],[value(code), ... 3856 3856 878.786 87.07 PathStep([value(code), value(dist)]) 3856 3856 601.359 >TOTAL - - 1009.274 -

The first column of the traversal-metrics table lists the steps executed by the traversal. The first two steps are generally the Neptune-specific steps, NeptuneGraphQueryStep and NeptuneTraverserConverterStep.

NeptuneGraphQueryStep represents the execution time for the entire portion of the traversal that could be converted and executed natively by the Neptune engine.

NeptuneTraverserConverterStep represents the process of converting the output of those converted steps into TinkerPop traversers which allow steps that could not be converted steps, if any, to be processed, or to return the results in a TinkerPop-compatible format.

In the example above, we have several non-converted steps, so we see that each of these TinkerPop steps (ProjectStep, PathStep) then appears as a row in the table.

The second column in the table, Count, reports the number of represented traversers that passed through the step, while the third column, Traversers, reports the number of traversers which passed through that step, as explained in the TinkerPop profile step documentation.

In our example there are 3,856 vertices and 3,856 traversers returned by the NeptuneGraphQueryStep, and these numbers remain the same throughout the remaining processing because ProjectStep and PathStep are formatting the results, not filtering them.

Note

Unlike TinkerPop, the Neptune engine does not optimize performance by bulking in its NeptuneGraphQueryStep and NeptuneTraverserConverterStep steps. Bulking is the TinkerPop operation that combines traversers on the same vertex to reduce operational overhead, and that is what causes the Count and Traversers numbers to differ. Because bulking only occurs in steps that Neptune delegates to TinkerPop, and not in steps that Neptune handles natively, the Count and Traverser columns seldom differ.

The Time column reports the number of milliseconds that the step took, and the the % Dur column reports what percent of the total processing time the step took. These are the metrics that tell you where to focus your tuning efforts by showing the steps that took the most time.

Index operation metrics in Neptune profile API output

Another set of metrics in the output of the Neptune profile API is the index operations:

Index Operations ================ Query execution: # of statement index ops: 23191 # of unique statement index ops: 5960 Duplication ratio: 3.89 # of terms materialized: 0

These report:

  • The total number of index lookups.

  • The number of unique index lookups performed.

  • The ratio of total index lookups to unique ones. A lower ratio indicates less redundancy.

  • The number of terms materialized from the term dictionary.

Repeat metrics in Neptune profile API output

If your traversal uses a repeat() step as in the example above, then a section containing repeat metrics appears in the profile output:

Repeat Metrics ============== Iteration Visited Output Until Emit Next ------------------------------------------------------ 0 2 0 0 0 2 1 53 0 0 0 53 2 3856 3856 3856 0 0 ------------------------------------------------------ 3911 3856 3856 0 55

These report:

  • The loop count for a row (the Iteration column).

  • The number of elements visited by the loop (the Visited column).

  • The number of elements output by the loop (the Output column).

  • The last element output by the loop (the Until column).

  • The number of elements emitted by the loop (the Emit column).

  • The number of elements passed from the loop to the subsequent loop (the Next column).

These repeat metrics are very helpful in understanding the branching factor of your traversal, to get a feeling for how much work is being done by the database. You can use these numbers to diagnose performance problems, especially when the same traversal performs dramatically differently with different parameters.

Full-text search metrics in Neptune profile API output

When a traversal uses a full-text search lookup, as in the example above, then a section containing the full-text search (FTS) metrics appears in the profile output:

FTS Metrics ============== SearchNode[(idVar=?1, query=Anchora~, field=city) . project ?1 .], {endpoint=your-OpenSearch-endpoint-URL, incomingSolutionsThreshold=1000, estimatedCardinality=INFINITY, remoteCallTimeSummary=[total=65, avg=32.500000, max=37, min=28], remoteCallTime=65, remoteCalls=2, joinTime=0, indexTime=0, remoteResults=2} 2 result(s) produced from SearchNode above

This shows the query sent to the ElasticSearch (ES) cluster and reports several metrics about the interaction with ElasticSearch that can help you pinpoint performance problems relating to full-text search:

  • Summary information about the calls into the ElasticSearch index:

    • The total number of milliseconds required by all remoteCalls to satisfy the query (total).

    • The average number of milliseconds spent in a remoteCall (avg).

    • The minimum number of milliseconds spent in a remoteCall (min).

    • The maximum number of milliseconds spent in a remoteCall (max).

  • Total time consumed by remoteCalls to ElasticSearch (remoteCallTime).

  • The number of remoteCalls made to ElasticSearch (remoteCalls).

  • The number of milliseconds spent in joins of ElasticSearch results (joinTime).

  • The number of milliseconds spent in index lookups (indexTime).

  • The total number of results returned by ElasticSearch (remoteResults).