# Transferability Properties of Graph Neural Networks

Graph neural networks (GNNs) are deep convolutional architectures consisting of layers composed by graph convolutions and pointwise nonlinearities. Due to their invariance and stability properties, GNNs are provably successful at learning representations from network data. However, training them requires matrix computations which can be expensive for large graphs. To address this limitation, we investigate the ability of GNNs to be transferred across graphs. We consider graphons, which are both graph limits and generative models for weighted and stochastic graphs, to define limit objects of graph convolutions and GNNs – graphon convolutions and graphon neural networks (WNNs) – which we use as generative models for graph convolutions and GNNs. We show that these graphon filters and WNNs can be approximated by graph filters and GNNs sampled from them on weighted and stochastic graphs. Using these results, we then derive error bounds for transferring graph filters and GNNs across such graphs. These bounds show that transferability increases with the graph size, and reveal a tradeoff between transferability and spectral discriminability which in GNNs is alleviated by the pointwise nonlinearities. These findings are further verified empirically in numerical experiments in movie recommendation and decentralized robot control.

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