Vector Databases—The Newest Tool for the AI Era
Making data-driven decisions is becoming more and more understood by companies in every industry as a requirement for competing today, in the next five years, in the next twenty, and beyond. According to current market research, the worldwide artificial intelligence (AI) market will "increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39.4% to reach $422.37 billion by 2028," driven by the exponential expansion of unstructured data in particular. The era of data overload and AI has arrived, and there is no turning back.
This reality implies that AI can truly sift and handle the deluge of data–not just for big giants like Alphabet, Microsoft, and Meta with their massive R&D departments and tailored AI tools, but for the typical corporation and even some small and medium-sized businesses.
Well-designed AI-based systems quickly filter through enormously vast datasets to produce fresh insights, which fuel fresh sources of income, adding significant value to enterprises. But without the new kid on the block, vector databases, none of the data expansion really becomes operationalized and democratized. Vector DBs represent a paradigm shift in database management and a new category for using the exponential amounts of unstructured data that are currently untapped in object stores. In particular, vector databases provide a mind-numbing new degree of search capacity for unstructured data, but they can also handle semi-structured and even structured data.
Vectors and Search. Unstructured data, which can't be simply sorted into row and column relationships, rarely matches the relational database paradigm. Examples include photos, video, audio, and user actions. Unstructured data management methods that are incredibly time-consuming and unreliable frequently include manually labelling the data (think labels and keywords on video platforms).
The real problem is that human methods make it very hard to perform a semantic search that comprehends the context and meaning of a picture or other unstructured piece of data, in addition to a search query.
Enter embedding vectors, often known as feature vectors, vector embeddings, or just embeddings. They are numerical values, or sort of coordinates, that represent unstructured data features or objects, such as a part of a picture, a section of a person's purchasing history, a few frames from a video, geospatial information, or anything else that doesn't neatly fit into a relational database table. These embeddings enable scalable, snappy “similarity search.”
Quality Data and Insights. An AI model, or more precisely, a machine learning (ML) or deep learning model, trained on very large amounts of high-quality input data, produces embeddings as a computational byproduct. A model is the computational result of an ML algorithm (method or procedure) conducted on data, to further draw crucial distinctions. Sophisticated, widely used algorithms include STEGO for computer vision, CNN for image processing and Google’s BERT for natural language processing. The resulting models turn each single piece of unstructured data into a list of floating-point values—our search-enabling embedding.
Therefore, a neural network model that has been properly trained will produce embeddings that are consistent with particular content and may apply to a semantic similarity search. A vector database, specifically designed to manage embeddings and their unique structure, is the instrument to store, index, and search through these embeddings.
The fact that developers from everywhere may now incorporate a vector database into AI systems, with its production-ready features and lightning-fast unstructured data search, is crucial in the industry.
Organizationally, a crucial component of standardizing the usage of vector databases is assisting business teams and their leadership in understanding why and how they can benefit. The concept of vector search has been around for quite a while, but only on a very small scale. Many businesses aren't really accustomed to having access to the kind of data mining and search capabilities that contemporary vector databases provide. Teams sometimes struggle with knowing where to begin. Therefore, their creators continue to place a high focus on spreading the word about how they operate and why they are valuable.