Toward Effective Neural Networks on Graph Data

Mr. Wang Yiwei
Dr Bryan Hooi Kuen Yew, Assistant Professor, School of Computing

21 Feb 2023 Tuesday, 09:30 AM to 11:30 AM

Zoom presentation


Graphs are ubiquitous in many practical settings, e.g., social networks, financial systems, transportation planning, online shopping recommendation, etc. Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are a promising approach for learning from graph data, but they have yet to reach the successes of deep learning in natural language processing and computer vision. The challenges are rooted in the high irregularity and connectivity of graph data. In this thesis, we explore to enhance the performance of neural networks for graph learning.

By using Data Augmentation (DA), we present a new method to enhance Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs), that are the state-of-the-art models for semi-supervised node classification. DA for graph data remains under-explored. Due to the connections built by edges, DA for different nodes influence each other and lead to undesired results, such as uncontrollable DA magnitudes and changes of ground-truth labels. To address this issue, we present the NodeAug (Node-Parallel Augmentation) scheme, that creates a "parallel universe" for each node to conduct DA, to block the undesired effects from other nodes. NodeAug regularizes the model prediction of every node (including unlabeled) to be invariant with respect to changes induced by Data Augmentation (DA), so as to improve the effectiveness. To augment the input features from different aspects, we propose three DA strategies by modifying both node attributes and the graph structure. In addition, we introduce the subgraph mini-batch training for the efficient implementation of NodeAug. The approach takes the subgraph corresponding to the receptive fields of a batch of nodes as the input per iteration, rather than the whole graph that the prior full-batch training takes. Empirically, NodeAug yields significant gains for strong GCN models on the Cora, Citeseer, Pubmed, and two co-authorship networks, with a more efficient training process thanks to the proposed subgraph mini-batch training approach.

Mixup is an advanced data augmentation method for training neural network based image classifiers, which interpolates both features and labels of a pair of images to produce synthetic samples. However, devising the Mixup methods for graph learning is challenging due to the irregularity and connectivity of graph data. In this thesis, we propose the Mixup methods for two fundamental tasks in graph learning: node and graph classification. To interpolate the irregular graph topology, we propose the two-branch graph convolution to mix the receptive field subgraphs for the paired nodes. Mixup on different node pairs can interfere with the mixed features for each other due to the connectivity between nodes. To block this interference, we propose the two-stage Mixup framework, which uses each node's neighbors' representations before Mixup for graph convolutions. For graph classification, we interpolate complex and diverse graphs in the semantic space. Qualitatively, our Mixup methods enable GNNs to learn more discriminative features and reduce over-fitting. Quantitative results show that our method yields consistent gains in terms of test accuracy and F1-micro scores on standard datasets, for both node and graph classification. Overall, our method effectively regularizes popular graph neural networks for better generalization without increasing their time complexity.

Temporal Graph Networks (TGNs) are powerful on modeling temporal graph data based on their increased complexity. Higher complexity carries with it a higher risk of overfitting, which makes TGNs capture random noise instead of essential semantic information. To address this issue, our idea is to transform the temporal graphs using data augmentation (DA) with adaptive magnitudes, so as to effectively augment the input features and preserve the essential semantic information. Based on this idea, we present the MeTA (Memory Tower Augmentation) module: a multi-level module that processes the augmented graphs of different magnitudes on separate levels, and performs message passing across levels to provide adaptively augmented inputs for every prediction. MeTA can be flexibly applied to the training of popular TGNs to improve their effectiveness without increasing their time complexity. To complement MeTA, we propose three DA strategies to realistically model noise by modifying both the temporal and topological features. Empirical results on standard datasets show that MeTA yields significant gains for the popular TGN models on edge prediction and node classification in an efficient manner.

Last but not least, we present a new neighbor sampling method on temporal graphs. In a temporal graph, predicting different nodes' time-varying properties can require the receptive neighborhood of various temporal scales. In this thesis, we propose the TNS (Time-aware Neighbor Sampling) method: TNS learns from temporal information to provide an adaptive receptive neighborhood for every node at any time. Learning how to sample neighbors is non-trivial, since the neighbor indices in time order are discrete and not differentiable. To address this challenge, we transform neighbor indices from discrete values to continuous ones by interpolating the neighbors' messages. TNS can be flexibly incorporated into popular temporal graph networks to improve their effectiveness without increasing their time complexity. TNS can be trained in an end-to-end manner. It needs no extra supervision and is automatically and implicitly guided to sample the neighbors that are most beneficial for prediction. Empirical results on multiple standard datasets show that TNS yields significant gains on edge prediction and node classification.