August 26, 2013

Unicorn: A System for Searching the Social Graph

International Conference on Very Large Data Bases (VLDB)

By: Mike Curtiss, Iain Becker, Tudor Bosman, Sergey Doroshenko, Lucian Adrian Grijincu, Tom Jackson, Soren Lassen, Philip Pronin, Guanghao Shen, Gintaras Woss, Chao Yang, Ning Zhang, Sriram Sankar

Abstract

Unicorn is an online, in-memory social graph-aware indexing system designed to search trillions of edges between tens of billions of users and entities on thousands of commodity servers. Unicorn is based on standard concepts in information retrieval, but it includes features to promote results with good social proximity. It also supports queries that require multiple round-trips to leaves in order to retrieve objects that are more than one edge away from source nodes.

Unicorn is designed to answer billions of queries per day at latencies in the hundreds of milliseconds, and it serves as an infrastructural building block for Facebook’s Graph Search product. In this paper, we describe the data model and query language supported by Unicorn. We also describe its evolution as it became the primary backend for Facebook’s search offerings.