Purdue University Graduate School
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Graph Matching Based on a Few Seeds: Theoretical Algorithms and Graph Neural Network Approaches

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posted on 2023-11-03, 18:15 authored by Liren YuLiren Yu

Since graphs are natural representations for encoding relational data, the problem of graph matching is an emerging task and has attracted increasing attention, which could potentially impact various domains such as social network de-anonymization and computer vision. Our main interest is designing polynomial-time algorithms for seeded graph matching problems where a subset of pre-matched vertex-pairs (seeds) is revealed.

However, the existing work does not fully investigate the pivotal role of seeds and falls short of making the most use of the seeds. Notably, the majority of existing hand-crafted algorithms only focus on using ``witnesses'' in the 1-hop neighborhood. Although some advanced algorithms are proposed to use multi-hop witnesses, their theoretical analysis applies only to \ER random graphs and requires seeds to be all correct, which often do not hold in real applications. Furthermore, a parallel line of research, Graph Neural Network (GNN) approaches, typically employs a semi-supervised approach, which requires a large number of seeds and lacks the capacity to distill knowledge transferable to unseen graphs.

In my dissertation, I have taken two approaches to address these limitations. In the first approach, we study to design hand-crafted algorithms that can properly use multi-hop witnesses to match graphs. We first study graph matching using multi-hop neighborhoods when partially-correct seeds are provided. Specifically, consider two correlated graphs whose edges are sampled independently from a parent \ER graph $\mathcal{G}(n,p)$. A mapping between the vertices of the two graphs is provided as seeds, of which an unknown fraction is correct. We first analyze a simple algorithm that matches vertices based on the number of common seeds in the $1$-hop neighborhoods, and then further propose a new algorithm that uses seeds in the $D$-hop neighborhoods. We establish non-asymptotic performance guarantees of perfect matching for both $1$-hop and $2$-hop algorithms, showing that our new $2$-hop algorithm requires substantially fewer correct seeds than the $1$-hop algorithm when graphs are sparse. Moreover, by combining our new performance guarantees for the $1$-hop and $2$-hop algorithms, we attain the best-known results (in terms of the required fraction of correct seeds) across the entire range of graph sparsity and significantly improve the previous results. We then study the role of multi-hop neighborhoods in matching power-law graphs. Assume that two edge-correlated graphs are independently edge-sampled from a common parent graph with a power-law degree distribution. A set of correctly matched vertex-pairs is chosen at random and revealed as initial seeds. Our goal is to use the seeds to recover the remaining latent vertex correspondence between the two graphs. Departing from the existing approaches that focus on the use of high-degree seeds in $1$-hop neighborhoods, we develop an efficient algorithm that exploits the low-degree seeds in suitably-defined $D$-hop neighborhoods. Our result achieves an exponential reduction in the seed size requirement compared to the best previously known results.

In the second approach, we study GNNs for seeded graph matching. We propose a new supervised approach that can learn from a training set how to match unseen graphs with only a few seeds. Our SeedGNN architecture incorporates several novel designs, inspired by our theoretical studies of seeded graph matching: 1) it can learn to compute and use witness-like information from different hops, in a way that can be generalized to graphs of different sizes; 2) it can use easily-matched node-pairs as new seeds to improve the matching in subsequent layers. We evaluate SeedGNN on synthetic and real-world graphs and demonstrate significant performance improvements over both non-learning and learning algorithms in the existing literature. Furthermore, our experiments confirm that the knowledge learned by SeedGNN from training graphs can be generalized to test graphs of different sizes and categories.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Xiaojun Lin

Additional Committee Member 2

Jiaming Xu

Additional Committee Member 3

Christopher G. Brinton

Additional Committee Member 4

Wojciech Szpankowski