A Practical, Progressively-Expressive GNN

Lingxiao Zhao, Neil Shah, Leman Akoglu
Event NeurIPS 2022
Research Areas Graph Machine Learning

Message passing neural networks (MPNNs) have become a dominant flavor of graph neural networks (GNNs) in recent years. Yet, MPNNs come with notable limitations; namely, they are at most as powerful as the 1-dimensional Weisfeiler-Leman (1-WL) test in distinguishing graphs in a graph isomorphism testing frame-work. To this end, researchers have drawn inspiration from the k-WL hierarchy to develop more expressive GNNs. However, current k-WL-equivalent GNNs are not practical for even small values of k, as k-WL becomes combinatorially more complex as k grows. At the same time, several works have found great empirical success in graph learning tasks without highly expressive models, implying that chasing expressiveness with a “coarse-grained ruler” of expressivity like k-WL is often unneeded in practical tasks. To truly understand the expressiveness-complexity tradeoff, one desires a more “fine-grained ruler,” which can more gradually increase expressiveness. Our work puts forth such a proposal: Namely, we first propose the (k, c)(≤)-SETWL hierarchy with greatly reduced complexity from k-WL, achieved by moving from k-tuples of nodes to sets with ≤k nodes defined over ≤c connected components in the induced original graph. We show favorable theoretical results for this model in relation to k-WL, and concretize it via (k, c)(≤)-SETGNN, which is as expressive as (k, c)(≤)-SETWL. Our model is practical and progressively-expressive, increasing in power with k and c. We demonstrate effectiveness on several benchmark datasets, achieving several state-of-the-art results with runtime and memory usage applicable to practical graphs.