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GOAt: Explaining Graph Neural Networks via Graph Output Attribution

Shengyao Lu · Keith G Mills · Jiao He · Bang Liu · Di Niu

Halle B #265
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Wed 8 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Understanding the decision-making process of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) is crucial to their interpretability. Most existing methods for explaining GNNs typically rely on training auxiliary models, resulting in the explanations remain black-boxed. This paper introduces Graph Output Attribution (GOAt), a novel method to attribute graph outputs to input graph features, creating GNN explanations that are faithful, discriminative, as well as stable across similar samples. By expanding the GNN as a sum of scalar products involving node features, edge features and activation patterns, we propose an efficient analytical method to compute contribution of each node or edge feature to each scalar product and aggregate the contributions from all scalar products in the expansion form to derive the importance of each node and edge. Through extensive experiments on synthetic and real-world data, we show that our method not only outperforms various state-of-the-art GNN explainers in terms of the commonly used fidelity metric, but also exhibits stronger discriminability, and stability by a remarkable margin.

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