A Comprehensive Comparison of Unsupervised Network Representation Learning Methods

by   Megha Khosla, et al.

There has been appreciable progress in unsupervised network representation learning (UNRL) approaches over graphs recently with flexible random-walk approaches, new optimization objectives and deep architectures. However, there is no common ground for systematic comparison of embeddings to understand their behavior for different graphs and tasks. In this paper we theoretically group different approaches under a unifying framework and empirically investigate the effectiveness of different network representation methods. In particular, we argue that most of the UNRL approaches either explicitly or implicit model and exploit context information of a node. Consequently, we propose a framework that casts a variety of approaches -- random walk based, matrix factorization and deep learning based -- into a unified context-based optimization function. We systematically group the methods based on their similarities and differences. We study the differences among these methods in detail which we later use to explain their performance differences (on downstream tasks). We conduct a large-scale empirical study considering 9 popular and recent UNRL techniques and 11 real-world datasets with varying structural properties and two common tasks -- node classification and link prediction. We find that there is no single method that is a clear winner and that the choice of a suitable method is dictated by certain properties of the embedding methods, task and structural properties of the underlying graph. In addition we also report the common pitfalls in evaluation of UNRL methods and come up with suggestions for experimental design and interpretation of results.


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