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Neo4j & Cypher: Creating Relationships Between a Collection of Nodes / Invalid input ‘[‘:

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Neo4j & Cypher: Creating Relationships Between a Collection of Nodes / Invalid input ‘[‘:

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When working with graphs we’ll frequently find ourselves wanting to create relationships between collections of nodes.

A common example of this would be creating a linked list of days so that we can quickly traverse across a time tree. Let’s say we start with just 3 days:

MERGE (day1:Day {day:1 })
MERGE (day2:Day {day:2 })
MERGE (day3:Day {day:3 })
RETURN day1, day2, day3

And we want to create a ‘NEXT’ relationship between adjacent days:

(day1)-[:NEXT]->(day2)-[:NEXT]->(day3)

The most obvious way to do this would be to collect the days into an ordered collection and iterate over them using FOREACH, creating a relationship between adjacent nodes:

MATCH (day:Day)
WITH day
ORDER BY day.day
WITH COLLECT(day) AS days
FOREACH(i in RANGE(0, length(days)-2) | 
  CREATE UNIQUE (days[i])-[:NEXT]->(days[i+1]))

Unfortunately this isn’t valid syntax:

Invalid input '[': expected an identifier character, node labels, a property map, whitespace, ')' or a relationship pattern (line 6, column 32)
"            CREATE UNIQUE (days[i])-[:NEXT]->(days[i+1]))"
                                ^

It doesn’t seem to like us using array indices where we specify the node identifier.

However, we can work around that by putting days[i] and days[i+1] into single item arrays and using nested FOREACH loops on those, something Michael Hunger showed me last year and I forgot all about!

MATCH (day:Day)
WITH day
ORDER BY day.day
WITH COLLECT(day) AS days
FOREACH(i in RANGE(0, length(days)-2) | 
  FOREACH(day1 in [days[i]] | 
    FOREACH(day2 in [days[i+1]] | 
      CREATE UNIQUE (day1)-[:NEXT]->(day2))))

Now if we do a query to get back all the days we’ll see they’re connected:

2014 04 19 07 32 37

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