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Rethinking the Power of Graph Canonization in Graph Representation Learning with Stability

Zehao Dong · Muhan Zhang · Philip Payne · Michael Province · Carlos Cruchaga · Tianyu Zhao · Fuhai Li · Yixin Chen

Halle B #255
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Thu 9 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT

Abstract: The expressivity of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) has been studied broadly in recent years to reveal the design principles for more powerful GNNs. Graph canonization is known as a typical approach to distinguish non-isomorphic graphs, yet rarely adopted when developing expressive GNNs. This paper proposes to maximize the expressivity of GNNs by graph canonization, then the power of such GNNs is studies from the perspective of model stability. A stable GNN will map similar graphs to close graph representations in the vectorial space, and the stability of GNNs is critical to generalize their performance to unseen graphs. We theoretically reveal the trade-off of expressivity and stability in graph-canonization-enhanced GNNs. Then we introduce a notion of universal graph canonization as the general solution to address the trade-off and characterize a widely applicable sufficient condition to solve the universal graph canonization. A comprehensive set of experiments demonstrates the effectiveness of the proposed method. In many popular graph benchmark datasets, graph canonization successfully enhances GNNs and provides highly competitive performance, indicating the capability and great potential of proposed method in general graph representation learning. In graph datasets where the sufficient condition holds, GNNs enhanced by universal graph canonization consistently outperform GNN baselines and successfully improve the SOTA performance up to $31$%, providing the optimal solution to numerous challenging real-world graph analytical tasks like gene network representation learning in bioinformatics.

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