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Temporal Generalization Estimation in Evolving Graphs

Bin Lu · Tingyan Ma · Xiaoying Gan · Xinbing Wang · Yunqiang Zhu · Chenghu Zhou · Shiyu Liang

Halle B #100
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Wed 8 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are widely deployed in vast fields, but they often struggle to maintain accurate representations as graphs evolve. We theoretically establish a lower bound, proving that under mild conditions, representation distortion inevitably occurs over time. To estimate the temporal distortion without human annotation after deployment, one naive approach is to pre-train a recurrent model (e.g., RNN) before deployment and use this model afterwards, but the estimation is far from satisfactory. In this paper, we analyze the representation distortion from an information theory perspective, and attribute it primarily to inaccurate feature extraction during evolution. Consequently, we introduce Smart, a straightforward and effective baseline enhanced by an adaptive feature extractor through self-supervised graph reconstruction. In synthetic random graphs, we further refine the former lower bound to show the inevitable distortion over time and empirically observe that Smart achieves good estimation performance. Moreover, we observe that Smart consistently shows outstanding generalization estimation on four real-world evolving graphs. The ablation studies underscore the necessity of graph reconstruction. For example, on OGB-arXiv dataset, the estimation metric MAPE deteriorates from 2.19% to 8.00% without reconstruction.

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