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Minjie Wang, Quan Gan, David Wipf, Zhenkun Cai, Ning Li, Jianheng Tang, Yanlin Zhang, Zizhao Zhang, Zunyao Mao, Yakun Song, Yanbo Wang, Jiahang Li, Han Zhang, Guang Yang, Xiao Qin, Chuan Lei, Muhan Zhang, Weinan Zhang, Christos Faloutsos, Zheng Zhang

Although RDBs store vast amounts of rich, informative data spread across interconnected tables, the progress of predictive machine learning models as applied to such tasks arguably falls well behind advances in other domains such as computer vision or natural language processing. This deficit stems, at least in part, from the lack of established/public RDB benchmarks as needed for training and evaluation purposes. As a result, related model development thus far often defaults to tabular approaches trained on ubiquitous single-table benchmarks, or on the relational side, graph-based alternatives such as GNNs applied to a completely different set of graph datasets devoid of tabular characteristics. To more precisely target RDBs lying at the nexus of these two complementary regimes, we explore a broad class of baseline models predicated on: (i) converting multi-table datasets into graphs using various strategies equipped with efficient subsampling, while preserving tabular characteristics; and (ii) trainable models with well-matched inductive biases that output predictions based on these input subgraphs. Then, to address the dearth of suitable public benchmarks and reduce siloed comparisons, we assemble a diverse collection of (i) large-scale RDB datasets and (ii) coincident predictive tasks. From a delivery standpoint, we operationalize the above four dimensions (4D) of exploration within a unified, scalable open-source toolbox called 4DBInfer. We conclude by presenting evaluations using 4DBInfer, the results of which highlight the importance of considering each such dimension in the design of RDB predictive models, as well as the limitations of more naive approaches such as simply joining adjacent tables. Our source code is released at https://github.com/awslabs/multi-table-benchmark .

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Bilevel optimization refers to scenarios whereby the optimal solution of a lower-level energy function serves as input features to an upper-level objective of interest. These optimal features typically depend on tunable parameters of the lower-level energy in such a way that the entire bilevel pipeline can be trained end-to-end. Although not generally presented as such, this paper demonstrates how a variety of graph learning techniques can be recast as special cases of bilevel optimization or simplifications thereof. In brief, building on prior work we first derive a more flexible class of energy functions that, when paired with various descent steps (e.g., gradient descent, proximal methods, momentum, etc.), form graph neural network (GNN) message-passing layers; critically, we also carefully unpack where any residual approximation error lies with respect to the underlying constituent message-passing functions. We then probe several simplifications of this framework to derive close connections with non-GNN-based graph learning approaches, including knowledge graph embeddings, various forms of label propagation, and efficient graph-regularized MLP models. And finally, we present supporting empirical results that demonstrate the versatility of the proposed bilevel lens, which we refer to as BloomGML, referencing that BiLevel Optimization Offers More Graph Machine Learning. Our code is available at https://github.com/amberyzheng/BloomGML. Let graph ML bloom.

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Relational databases are extensively utilized in a variety of modern information system applications, and they always carry valuable data patterns. There are a huge number of data mining or machine learning tasks conducted on relational databases. However, it is worth noting that there are limited machine learning models specifically designed for relational databases, as most models are primarily tailored for single table settings. Consequently, the prevalent approach for training machine learning models on data stored in relational databases involves performing feature engineering to merge the data from multiple tables into a single table and subsequently applying single table models. This approach not only requires significant effort in feature engineering but also destroys the inherent relational structure present in the data. To address these challenges, we propose a novel framework called Graph-based Feature Synthesis (GFS). GFS formulates the relational database as a heterogeneous graph, thereby preserving the relational structure within the data. By leveraging the inductive bias from single table models, GFS effectively captures the intricate relationships inherent in each table. Additionally, the whole framework eliminates the need for manual feature engineering. In the extensive experiment over four real-world multi-table relational databases, GFS outperforms previous methods designed for relational databases, demonstrating its superior performance.

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Among the many variants of graph neural network (GNN) architectures capable of modeling data with cross-instance relations, an important subclass involves layers designed such that the forward pass iteratively reduces a graph-regularized energy function of interest. In this way, node embeddings produced at the output layer dually serve as both predictive features for solving downstream tasks (e.g., node classification) and energy function minimizers that inherit desirable inductive biases and interpretability. However, scaling GNN architectures constructed in this way remains challenging, in part because the convergence of the forward pass may involve models with considerable depth. To tackle this limitation, we propose a sampling-based energy function and scalable GNN layers that iteratively reduce it, guided by convergence guarantees in certain settings. We also instantiate a full GNN architecture based on these designs, and the model achieves competitive accuracy and scalability when applied to the largest publicly-available node classification benchmark exceeding 1TB in size.

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Graph neural networks (GNNs) for link prediction can loosely be divided into two broad categories. First, \emph{node-wise} architectures pre-compute individual embeddings for each node that are later combined by a simple decoder to make predictions. While extremely efficient at inference time (since node embeddings are only computed once and repeatedly reused), model expressiveness is limited such that isomorphic nodes contributing to candidate edges may not be distinguishable, compromising accuracy. In contrast, \emph{edge-wise} methods rely on the formation of edge-specific subgraph embeddings to enrich the representation of pair-wise relationships, disambiguating isomorphic nodes to improve accuracy, but with the cost of increased model complexity. To better navigate this trade-off, we propose a novel GNN architecture whereby the \emph{forward pass} explicitly depends on \emph{both} positive (as is typical) and negative (unique to our approach) edges to inform more flexible, yet still cheap node-wise embeddings. This is achieved by recasting the embeddings themselves as minimizers of a forward-pass-specific energy function (distinct from the actual training loss) that favors separation of positive and negative samples. As demonstrated by extensive empirical evaluations, the resulting architecture retains the inference speed of node-wise models, while producing competitive accuracy with edge-wise alternatives.

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The angular synchronization problem aims to accurately estimate (up to a constant additive phase) a set of unknown angles $\theta_1, \dots, \theta_n\in[0, 2\pi)$ from $m$ noisy measurements of their offsets $\theta_i-\theta_j \;\mbox{mod} \; 2\pi.$ Applications include, for example, sensor network localization, phase retrieval, and distributed clock synchronization. An extension of the problem to the heterogeneous setting (dubbed $k$-synchronization) is to estimate $k$ groups of angles simultaneously, given noisy observations (with unknown group assignment) from each group. Existing methods for angular synchronization usually perform poorly in high-noise regimes, which are common in applications. In this paper, we leverage neural networks for the angular synchronization problem, and its heterogeneous extension, by proposing GNNSync, a theoretically-grounded end-to-end trainable framework using directed graph neural networks. In addition, new loss functions are devised to encode synchronization objectives. Experimental results on extensive data sets demonstrate that GNNSync attains competitive, and often superior, performance against a comprehensive set of baselines for the angular synchronization problem and its extension, validating the robustness of GNNSync even at high noise levels.

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A long-standing goal in deep learning has been to characterize the learning behavior of black-box models in a more interpretable manner. For graph neural networks (GNNs), considerable advances have been made in formalizing what functions they can represent, however it remains less clear whether and how GNNs learn desired functions during the optimization process. To fill this critical gap, we study the learning dynamics of GNNs in function space via the analytic framework of overparameterization. In particular, we find that the seemingly complicated training process of GNNs can be re-cast into a more familiar label propagation framework, due to the graph inductive bias implicit in this process. From this vantage point, we provide explanations for why the learned GNN functions successfully generalize and for their pathological behavior on heterophilic graphs, which are consistent with observations. Practically, sparsifying and implementing the learning dynamics lead to a minimalist semi-supervised learning algorithm with the efficiency of classic algorithms and the effectiveness of modern GNNs.

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Hypergraphs are a powerful abstraction for representing higher-order interactions between entities of interest. To exploit these relationships in making downstream predictions, a variety of hypergraph neural network architectures have recently been proposed, in large part building upon precursors from the more traditional graph neural network (GNN) literature. Somewhat differently, in this paper we begin by presenting an expressive family of parameterized, hypergraph-regularized energy functions. We then demonstrate how minimizers of these energies effectively serve as node embeddings that, when paired with a parameterized classifier, can be trained end-to-end via a supervised bilevel optimization process. Later, we draw parallels between the implicit architecture of the predictive models emerging from the proposed bilevel hypergraph optimization, and existing GNN architectures in common use. Empirically, we demonstrate state-of-the-art results on various hypergraph node classification benchmarks. Code is available at https://github.com/yxzwang/PhenomNN.

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Graph neural networks have been extensively studied for learning with inter-connected data. Despite this, recent evidence has revealed GNNs' deficiencies related to over-squashing, heterophily, handling long-range dependencies, edge incompleteness and particularly, the absence of graphs altogether. While a plausible solution is to learn new adaptive topology for message passing, issues concerning quadratic complexity hinder simultaneous guarantees for scalability and precision in large networks. In this paper, we introduce a novel all-pair message passing scheme for efficiently propagating node signals between arbitrary nodes, as an important building block for a pioneering Transformer-style network for node classification on large graphs, dubbed as \textsc{NodeFormer}. Specifically, the efficient computation is enabled by a kernerlized Gumbel-Softmax operator that reduces the algorithmic complexity to linearity w.r.t. node numbers for learning latent graph structures from large, potentially fully-connected graphs in a differentiable manner. We also provide accompanying theory as justification for our design. Extensive experiments demonstrate the promising efficacy of the method in various tasks including node classification on graphs (with up to 2M nodes) and graph-enhanced applications (e.g., image classification) where input graphs are missing.

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Although the variational autoencoder (VAE) and its conditional extension (CVAE) are capable of state-of-the-art results across multiple domains, their precise behavior is still not fully understood, particularly in the context of data (like images) that lie on or near a low-dimensional manifold. For example, while prior work has suggested that the globally optimal VAE solution can learn the correct manifold dimension, a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for producing samples from the true data distribution, this has never been rigorously proven. Moreover, it remains unclear how such considerations would change when various types of conditioning variables are introduced, or when the data support is extended to a union of manifolds (e.g., as is likely the case for MNIST digits and related). In this work, we address these points by first proving that VAE global minima are indeed capable of recovering the correct manifold dimension. We then extend this result to more general CVAEs, demonstrating practical scenarios whereby the conditioning variables allow the model to adaptively learn manifolds of varying dimension across samples. Our analyses, which have practical implications for various CVAE design choices, are also supported by numerical results on both synthetic and real-world datasets.

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