Version 1.0 (8.24 KB) by Trevor Vannoy
MATLAB functions for creating k-nearest neighbor graphs
Updated 19 Aug 2021


View knn-graphs on File Exchange

MATLAB functions for creating k-nearest neighbor (knn) graphs.

Many machine learning and data mining algorithms use k-nearest neighbor graphs. While MATLAB provides graph/digraph objects, it does not provide any high-level functions to create k-nearest neighbor graphs. The functions in this repo provide constructors for various k-nearest-neighbor-type graphs, which are returned as native MATLAB graph objects.

Available graph types:

  • k-nearest neighbor (knngraph)
  • mutual k-nearest neighbor (mutualknngraph)

Performance considerations

The most expensive part of knn graph creation is the knn search. In a lot of cases, MATLAB's knnsearch function performs an exhaustive search, which has a complexity of O(n^2) and is very time-consuming for large data.

The functions in this repo provide the option of using pynndescent, an approximate knn search, to speed things up. pynndescent is used through MATLAB's Python language interface. There is now a MATLAB implementation of NN-descent, but there was a memory leak when I last tried to use it.


Install with mpm:

mpm install knn-graphs

Install from GitHub

  • Download the latest release
  • Add the code to your MATLAB path

Install from the MATLAB File Exchange


  • Statistics and Machine Learning toolbox


If you want to perform a fast approximate knn search, you will need pynndescent installed.

Refer to Mathworks' documentation on setting up the Python language interface. You will need to use a Python version that your version of MATLAB supports. I recommend using Anaconda on Linux; it can be used on Windows as well, but, in my experience, it is not trivial to get MATLAB to recognize your Anaconda environment on Windows.


Creating a 10-nearest neighbor graph on random data:

X = rand(50e3, 20);
G = knngraph(X, 10);

Creating a mutual 5-nearest neighbor graph on random data:

X = rand(50e3, 20);
G = mutualknngraph(X, 5);

Precomputing the knn search for 10 neighbors:

X = rand(50e3, 20);

% by default, knn index creation includes self-edges, so use k+1
neighbors = knnindex(X, 11);

% create 10-nearest neighbor graph
G10 = knngraph(neighbors, 10);

% create 4-nearest neighbor graph without recomputing the knn search
G4 = knngraph(neighbors, 4);

Since computing the knn index is the most expensive operation, precomputing it can save time if you need to build multiple graphs.

For more detailed documentation and usage, see each function's help text.


Feel free to submit pull requests! More types of nearest-neighbor graphs, bug fixes, optimizations, etc. are all appreciated.

Cite As

Trevor Vannoy (2024). knn-graphs (, GitHub. Retrieved .

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R2020a
Compatible with R2020a and later releases
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux
Tags Add Tags

Community Treasure Hunt

Find the treasures in MATLAB Central and discover how the community can help you!

Start Hunting!
Version Published Release Notes

To view or report issues in this GitHub add-on, visit the GitHub Repository.
To view or report issues in this GitHub add-on, visit the GitHub Repository.