Most real-world networks are noisy and incomplete samples from an unknown target distribution. Refining them by correcting corruptions or inferring unobserved regions typically improves downstream performance. Inspired by the impressive generative capabilities that have been used to correct corruptions in images, and the similarities between "in-painting" and filling in missing nodes and edges conditioned on the observed graph, we propose a novel graph generative framework, SGDM, which is based on subgraph diffusion. Our framework not only improves the scalability and fidelity of graph diffusion models, but also leverages the reverse process to perform novel, conditional generation tasks. In particular, through extensive empirical analysis and a set of novel metrics, we demonstrate that our proposed model effectively supports the following refinement tasks for partially observable networks: T1: denoising extraneous subgraphs, T2: expanding existing subgraphs and T3: performing "style" transfer by regenerating a particular subgraph to match the characteristics of a different node or subgraph.
How can we enhance the node features acquired from Pretrained Models (PMs) to better suit downstream graph learning tasks? Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have become the state-of-the-art approach for many high-impact, real-world graph applications. For feature-rich graphs, a prevalent practice involves utilizing a PM directly to generate features, without incorporating any domain adaptation techniques. Nevertheless, this practice is suboptimal because the node features extracted from PM are graph-agnostic and prevent GNNs from fully utilizing the potential correlations between the graph structure and node features, leading to a decline in GNNs performance. In this work, we seek to improve the node features obtained from a PM for downstream graph tasks and introduce TOUCHUP-G, which has several advantages. It is (a) General: applicable to any downstream graph task, including link prediction which is often employed in recommender systems; (b) Multi-modal: able to improve raw features of any modality (e.g. images, texts, audio); (c) Principled: it is closely related to a novel metric, feature homophily, which we propose to quantify the potential correlations between the graph structure and node features and we show that TOUCHUP-G can effectively shrink the discrepancy between the graph structure and node features; (d) Effective: achieving state-of-the-art results on four real-world datasets spanning different tasks and modalities.
Safe deployment of graph neural networks (GNNs) under distribution shift requires models to provide accurate confidence indicators (CI). However, while it is well-known in computer vision that CI quality diminishes under distribution shift, this behavior remains understudied for GNNs. Hence, we begin with a case study on CI calibration under controlled structural and feature distribution shifts and demonstrate that increased expressivity or model size do not always lead to improved CI performance. Consequently, we instead advocate for the use of epistemic uncertainty quantification (UQ) methods to modulate CIs. To this end, we propose G-$\Delta$UQ, a new single model UQ method that extends the recently proposed stochastic centering framework to support structured data and partial stochasticity. Evaluated across covariate, concept, and graph size shifts, G-$\Delta$UQ not only outperforms several popular UQ methods in obtaining calibrated CIs, but also outperforms alternatives when CIs are used for generalization gap prediction or OOD detection. Overall, our work not only introduces a new, flexible GNN UQ method, but also provides novel insights into GNN CIs on safety-critical tasks.
Brain graphs, which model the structural and functional relationships between brain regions, are crucial in neuroscientific and clinical applications involving graph classification. However, dense brain graphs pose computational challenges including high runtime and memory usage and limited interpretability. In this paper, we investigate effective designs in Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) to sparsify brain graphs by eliminating noisy edges. While prior works remove noisy edges based on explainability or task-irrelevant properties, their effectiveness in enhancing performance with sparsified graphs is not guaranteed. Moreover, existing approaches often overlook collective edge removal across multiple graphs. To address these issues, we introduce an iterative framework to analyze different sparsification models. Our findings are as follows: (i) methods prioritizing interpretability may not be suitable for graph sparsification as they can degrade GNNs' performance in graph classification tasks; (ii) simultaneously learning edge selection with GNN training is more beneficial than post-training; (iii) a shared edge selection across graphs outperforms separate selection for each graph; and (iv) task-relevant gradient information aids in edge selection. Based on these insights, we propose a new model, Interpretable Graph Sparsification (IGS), which enhances graph classification performance by up to 5.1% with 55.0% fewer edges. The retained edges identified by IGS provide neuroscientific interpretations and are supported by well-established literature.
Research on GNNs has highlighted a relationship between high homophily (i.e., the tendency for nodes of a similar class to connect) and strong predictive performance in node classification. However, recent research has found the relationship to be more nuanced, demonstrating that even simple GNNs can learn in certain heterophilous settings. To bridge the gap between these findings, we revisit the assumptions made in previous works and identify that datasets are often treated as having a constant homophily level across nodes. To align closer to real-world datasets, we theoretically and empirically study the performance of GNNs when the local homophily level of a node deviates at test-time from the global homophily level of its graph. To aid our theoretical analysis, we introduce a new parameter to the preferential attachment model commonly used in homophily analysis to enable the control of local homophily levels in generated graphs, enabling a systematic empirical study on how local homophily can impact performance. We additionally perform a granular analysis on a number of real-world datasets with varying global homophily levels. Across our theoretical and empirical results, we find that (a)~ GNNs can fail to generalize to test nodes that deviate from the global homophily of a graph, (b)~ high local homophily does not necessarily confer high performance for a node, and (c)~ GNN models designed to handle heterophily are able to perform better across varying heterophily ranges irrespective of the dataset's global homophily. These findings point towards a GNN's over-reliance on the global homophily used for training and motivates the need to design GNNs that can better generalize across large local homophily ranges.
Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have demonstrated promising outcomes across various tasks, including node classification and link prediction. Despite their remarkable success in various high-impact applications, we have identified three common pitfalls in message passing for link prediction. Particularly, in prevalent GNN frameworks (e.g., DGL and PyTorch-Geometric), the target edges (i.e., the edges being predicted) consistently exist as message passing edges in the graph during training. Consequently, this results in overfitting and distribution shift, both of which adversely impact the generalizability to test the target edges. Additionally, during test time, the failure to exclude the test target edges leads to implicit test leakage caused by neighborhood aggregation. In this paper, we analyze these three pitfalls and investigate the impact of including or excluding target edges on the performance of nodes with varying degrees during training and test phases. Our theoretical and empirical analysis demonstrates that low-degree nodes are more susceptible to these pitfalls. These pitfalls can have detrimental consequences when GNNs are implemented in production systems. To systematically address these pitfalls, we propose SpotTarget, an effective and efficient GNN training framework. During training, SpotTarget leverages our insight regarding low-degree nodes and excludes train target edges connected to at least one low-degree node. During test time, it emulates real-world scenarios of GNN usage in production and excludes all test target edges. Our experiments conducted on diverse real-world datasets, demonstrate that SpotTarget significantly enhances GNNs, achieving up to a 15x increase in accuracy in sparse graphs. Furthermore, SpotTarget consistently and dramatically improves the performance for low-degree nodes in dense graphs.
Distributed training of GNNs enables learning on massive graphs (e.g., social and e-commerce networks) that exceed the storage and computational capacity of a single machine. To reach performance comparable to centralized training, distributed frameworks focus on maximally recovering cross-instance node dependencies with either communication across instances or periodic fallback to centralized training, which create overhead and limit the framework scalability. In this work, we present a simplified framework for distributed GNN training that does not rely on the aforementioned costly operations, and has improved scalability, convergence speed and performance over the state-of-the-art approaches. Specifically, our framework (1) assembles independent trainers, each of which asynchronously learns a local model on locally-available parts of the training graph, and (2) only conducts periodic (time-based) model aggregation to synchronize the local models. Backed by our theoretical analysis, instead of maximizing the recovery of cross-instance node dependencies -- which has been considered the key behind closing the performance gap between model aggregation and centralized training -- , our framework leverages randomized assignment of nodes or super-nodes (i.e., collections of original nodes) to partition the training graph such that it improves data uniformity and minimizes the discrepancy of gradient and loss function across instances. In our experiments on social and e-commerce networks with up to 1.3 billion edges, our proposed RandomTMA and SuperTMA approaches -- despite using less training data -- achieve state-of-the-art performance and 2.31x speedup compared to the fastest baseline, and show better robustness to trainer failures.
Generalization error predictors (GEPs) aim to predict model performance on unseen distributions by deriving dataset-level error estimates from sample-level scores. However, GEPs often utilize disparate mechanisms (e.g., regressors, thresholding functions, calibration datasets, etc), to derive such error estimates, which can obfuscate the benefits of a particular scoring function. Therefore, in this work, we rigorously study the effectiveness of popular scoring functions (confidence, local manifold smoothness, model agreement), independent of mechanism choice. We find, absent complex mechanisms, that state-of-the-art confidence- and smoothness- based scores fail to outperform simple model-agreement scores when estimating error under distribution shifts and corruptions. Furthermore, on realistic settings where the training data has been compromised (e.g., label noise, measurement noise, undersampling), we find that model-agreement scores continue to perform well and that ensemble diversity is important for improving its performance. Finally, to better understand the limitations of scoring functions, we demonstrate that simplicity bias, or the propensity of deep neural networks to rely upon simple but brittle features, can adversely affect GEP performance. Overall, our work carefully studies the effectiveness of popular scoring functions in realistic settings and helps to better understand their limitations.
Advances in the expressivity of pretrained models have increased interest in the design of adaptation protocols which enable safe and effective transfer learning. Going beyond conventional linear probing (LP) and fine tuning (FT) strategies, protocols that can effectively control feature distortion, i.e., the failure to update features orthogonal to the in-distribution, have been found to achieve improved out-of-distribution generalization (OOD). In order to limit this distortion, the LP+FT protocol, which first learns a linear probe and then uses this initialization for subsequent FT, was proposed. However, in this paper, we find when adaptation protocols (LP, FT, LP+FT) are also evaluated on a variety of safety objectives (e.g., calibration, robustness, etc.), a complementary perspective to feature distortion is helpful to explain protocol behavior. To this end, we study the susceptibility of protocols to simplicity bias (SB), i.e. the well-known propensity of deep neural networks to rely upon simple features, as SB has recently been shown to underlie several problems in robust generalization. Using a synthetic dataset, we demonstrate the susceptibility of existing protocols to SB. Given the strong effectiveness of LP+FT, we then propose modified linear probes that help mitigate SB, and lead to better initializations for subsequent FT. We verify the effectiveness of the proposed LP+FT variants for decreasing SB in a controlled setting, and their ability to improve OOD generalization and safety on three adaptation datasets.
Network alignment, or the task of finding corresponding nodes in different networks, is an important problem formulation in many application domains. We propose CAPER, a multilevel alignment framework that Coarsens the input graphs, Aligns the coarsened graphs, Projects the alignment solution to finer levels and Refines the alignment solution. We show that CAPER can improve upon many different existing network alignment algorithms by enforcing alignment consistency across multiple graph resolutions: nodes matched at finer levels should also be matched at coarser levels. CAPER also accelerates the use of slower network alignment methods, at the modest cost of linear-time coarsening and refinement steps, by allowing them to be run on smaller coarsened versions of the input graphs. Experiments show that CAPER can improve upon diverse network alignment methods by an average of 33% in accuracy and/or an order of magnitude faster in runtime.