Purdue University Graduate School
Purdue_University_Dissertation_Susheel.pdf (6.01 MB)

Models and Representation Learning Mechanisms for Graph Data

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posted on 2022-12-15, 20:38 authored by Susheel SureshSusheel Suresh

Graph representation learning (GRL) has been increasing used to model and understand data from a wide variety of complex systems spanning social, technological, bio-chemical and physical domains. GRL consists of two main components (1) a parametrized encoder that provides representations of graph data and (2) a learning process to train the encoder parameters. Designing flexible encoders that capture the underlying invariances and characteristics of graph data are crucial to the success of GRL. On the other hand, the learning process drives the quality of the encoder representations and developing principled learning mechanisms are vital for a number of growing applications in self-supervised, transfer and federated learning settings. To this end, we propose a suite of models and learning algorithms for GRL which form the two main thrusts of this dissertation.

In Thrust I, we propose two novel encoders which build upon on a widely popular GRL encoder class called graph neural networks (GNNs). First, we empirically study the prediction performance of current GNN based encoders when applied to graphs with heterogeneous node mixing patterns using our proposed notion of local assortativity. We find that GNN performance in node prediction tasks strongly correlates with our local assortativity metric---thereby introducing a limit. We propose to transform the input graph into a computation graph with proximity and structural information as distinct types of edges. We then propose a novel GNN based encoder that operates on this computation graph and adaptively chooses between structure and proximity information. Empirically, adopting our transformation and encoder framework leads to improved node classification performance compared to baselines in real-world graphs that exhibit diverse mixing.

Secondly, we study the trade-off between expressivity and efficiency of GNNs when applied to temporal graphs for the task of link ranking. We develop an encoder that incorporates a labeling approach designed to allow for efficient inference over the candidate set jointly, while provably boosting expressivity. We also propose to optimize a list-wise loss for improved ranking. With extensive evaluation on real-world temporal graphs, we demonstrate its improved performance and efficiency compared to baselines.

In Thrust II, we propose two principled encoder learning mechanisms for challenging and realistic graph data settings. First, we consider a scenario where only limited or even no labelled data is available for GRL. Recent research has converged on graph contrastive learning (GCL), where GNNs are trained to maximize the correspondence between representations of the same graph in its different augmented forms. However, we find that GNNs trained by traditional GCL often risk capturing redundant graph features and thus may be brittle and provide sub-par performance in downstream tasks. We then propose a novel principle, termed adversarial-GCL (AD-GCL), which enables GNNs to avoid capturing redundant information during the training by optimizing adversarial graph augmentation strategies used in GCL. We pair AD-GCL with theoretical explanations and design a practical instantiation based on trainable edge-dropping graph augmentation. We experimentally validate AD-GCL by comparing with state-of-the-art GCL methods and achieve performance gains in semi-supervised, unsupervised and transfer learning settings using benchmark chemical and biological molecule datasets. 

Secondly, we consider a scenario where graph data is silo-ed across clients for GRL. We focus on two unique challenges encountered when applying distributed training to GRL: (i) client task heterogeneity and (ii) label scarcity. We propose a novel learning framework called federated self-supervised graph learning (FedSGL), which first utilizes a self-supervised objective to train GNNs in a federated fashion across clients and then, each client fine-tunes the obtained GNNs based on its local task and available labels. Our framework enables the federated GNN model to extract patterns from the common feature (attribute and graph topology) space without the need of labels or being biased by heterogeneous local tasks. Extensive empirical study of FedSGL on both node and graph classification tasks yields fruitful insights into how the level of feature / task heterogeneity, the adopted federated algorithm and the level of label scarcity affects the clients’ performance in their tasks.


NSF CCF-1918483

NSF IIS-1618690

NSF CCF-0939370


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Computer Science

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jennifer Neville

Additional Committee Member 2

Bruno Ribeiro

Additional Committee Member 3

Pan Li

Additional Committee Member 4

Tiark Rompf