Cold Brew: Distilling Graph Node Representations with Incomplete or Missing Neighborhoods

Wenqing Zheng · Edward Huang · Nikhil Rao · Sumeet Katariya · Zhangyang Wang · Karthik Subbian

Keywords: [ knowledge distillation ] [ graph neural networks ]

[ Abstract ]
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Wed 27 Apr 6:30 p.m. PDT — 8:30 p.m. PDT


Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have achieved state-of-the-art performance in node classification, regression, and recommendation tasks. GNNs work well when rich and high-quality connections are available. However, their effectiveness is often jeopardized in many real-world graphs in which node degrees have power-law distributions. The extreme case of this situation, where a node may have no neighbors, is called Strict Cold Start (SCS). SCS forces the prediction to rely completely on the node's own features. We propose Cold Brew, a teacher-student distillation approach to address the SCS and noisy-neighbor challenges for GNNs. We also introduce feature contribution ratio (FCR), a metric to quantify the behavior of inductive GNNs to solve SCS. We experimentally show that FCR disentangles the contributions of different graph data components and helps select the best architecture for SCS generalization. We further demonstrate the superior performance of Cold Brew on several public benchmark and proprietary e-commerce datasets, where many nodes have either very few or noisy connections. Our source code is available at

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