Let's Agree to Degree: Comparing Graph Convolutional Networks in the Message-Passing Framework

by   Floris Geerts, et al.

In this paper we cast neural networks defined on graphs as message-passing neural networks (MPNNs) in order to study the distinguishing power of different classes of such models. We are interested in whether certain architectures are able to tell vertices apart based on the feature labels given as input with the graph. We consider two variants of MPNNS: anonymous MPNNs whose message functions depend only on the labels of vertices involved; and degree-aware MPNNs in which message functions can additionally use information regarding the degree of vertices. The former class covers a popular formalisms for computing functions on graphs: graph neural networks (GNN). The latter covers the so-called graph convolutional networks (GCNs), a recently introduced variant of GNNs by Kipf and Welling. We obtain lower and upper bounds on the distinguishing power of MPNNs in terms of the distinguishing power of the Weisfeiler-Lehman (WL) algorithm. Our results imply that (i) the distinguishing power of GCNs is bounded by the WL algorithm, but that they are one step ahead; (ii) the WL algorithm cannot be simulated by "plain vanilla" GCNs but the addition of a trade-off parameter between features of the vertex and those of its neighbours (as proposed by Kipf and Welling themselves) resolves this problem.


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