What is the most efficient graph data structure in Python? [closed]


I need to be able to manipulate a large (10^7 nodes) graph in python. The data corresponding to each node/edge is minimal, say, a small number of strings. What is the most efficient, in terms of memory and speed, way of doing this?

A dict of dicts is more flexible and simpler to implement, but I intuitively expect a list of lists to be faster. The list option would also require that I keep the data separate from the structure, while dicts would allow for something of the sort:


What would you suggest?

Yes, I should have been a bit clearer on what I mean by efficiency. In this particular case I mean it in terms of random access retrieval.

Loading the data in to memory isn't a huge problem. That's done once and for all. The time consuming part is visiting the nodes so I can extract the information and measure the metrics I'm interested in.

I hadn't considered making each node a class (properties are the same for all nodes) but it seems like that would add an extra layer of overhead? I was hoping someone would have some direct experience with a similar case that they could share. After all, graphs are one of the most common abstractions in CS.


No doubt NetworkX is the best data structure till now for graph. It comes with utilities like Helper Functions, Data Structures and Algorithms, Random Sequence Generators, Decorators, Cuthill-Mckee Ordering, Context Managers

NetworkX is great because it wowrs for graphs, digraphs, and multigraphs. It can write graph with multiple ways: Adjacency List, Multiline Adjacency List, Edge List, GEXF, GML. It works with Pickle, GraphML, JSON, SparseGraph6 etc.

It has implimentation of various radimade algorithms including: Approximation, Bipartite, Boundary, Centrality, Clique, Clustering, Coloring, Components, Connectivity, Cycles, Directed Acyclic Graphs, Distance Measures, Dominating Sets, Eulerian, Isomorphism, Link Analysis, Link Prediction, Matching, Minimum Spanning Tree, Rich Club, Shortest Paths, Traversal, Tree.

I would strongly advocate you look at NetworkX. It's a battle-tested war horse and the first tool most 'research' types reach for when they need to do analysis of network based data. I have manipulated graphs with 100s of thousands of edges without problem on a notebook. Its feature rich and very easy to use. You will find yourself focusing more on the problem at hand rather than the details in the underlying implementation.

Example of Erd?s-R�nyi random graph generation and analysis

Create an G{n,m} random graph with n nodes and m edges
and report some properties.

This graph is sometimes called the Erd##[m~Qs-R�nyi graph
but is different from G{n,p} or binomial_graph which is also
sometimes called the Erd##[m~Qs-R�nyi graph.
__author__ = """Aric Hagberg ([email protected])"""
__credits__ = """"""
#    Copyright (C) 2004-2006 by 
#    Aric Hagberg 
#    Dan Schult 
#    Pieter Swart 
#    Distributed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License
#    http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/lesser.html

from networkx import *
import sys

n=10 # 10 nodes
m=20 # 20 edges


# some properties
print "node degree clustering"
for v in nodes(G):
    print v,degree(G,v),clustering(G,v)

# print the adjacency list to terminal 

Visualizations are also straightforward:

enter image description here

More visualization: http://jonschull.blogspot.com/2008/08/graph-visualization.html

By : Ryan Cox

Even though this question is now quite old, I think it is worthwhile to mention my own python module for graph manipulation called graph-tool. It is very efficient, since the data structures and algorithms are implemented in C++, with template metaprograming, using the Boost Graph Library. Therefore its performance (both in memory usage and runtime) is comparable to a pure C++ library, and can be orders of magnitude better than typical python code, without sacrificing ease of use. I use it myself constantly to work with very large graphs.

This video can help you solving your question :)
By: admin