GraphPatcher: Mitigating Degree Bias for Graph Neural Networks via Test-time Node Patching

Mingxuan Ju, Tong Zhao, Wenhao Yu, Neil Shah, Yanfang Ye
Event NeurIPS 2023
Research Areas Graph Machine Learning

Recent studies have shown that graph neural networks (GNNs) exhibit strong biases towards the node degree: they usually perform satisfactorily on high-degree nodes with rich neighbor information but struggle with low-degree nodes. Existing works tackle this problem by deriving either designated GNN architectures or training strategies specifically for low-degree nodes. Though effective, these approaches unintentionally create an artificial out-of-distribution scenario, where models mainly or even only observe low-degree nodes during the training, leading to a downgraded performance for high-degree nodes that GNNs originally perform well at. In light of this, we propose a test-time augmentation framework, namely GraphPatcher, to enhance test-time generalization of any GNNs on low-degree nodes. Specifically, GraphPatcher iteratively generates virtual nodes to patch artificially created low-degree nodes via corruptions, aiming at progressively reconstructing target GNN’s predictions over a sequence of increasingly corrupted nodes. Through this scheme, GraphPatcher not only learns how to enhance low-degree nodes (when the neighborhoods are heavily corrupted) but also preserves the original superior performance of GNNs on high-degree nodes (when lightly corrupted). Additionally, GraphPatcher is model-agnostic and can also mitigate the degree bias for either self-supervised or supervised GNNs. Comprehensive experiments are conducted over seven benchmark datasets and GraphPatcher consistently enhances common GNNs’ overall performance by up to 3.6% and low-degree performance by up to 6.5%, significantly outperforming state-of-the-art baselines. The source code is publicly available.