Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)
Xiang Zhang, Marinka Zitnik
Deep learning methods for graphs achieve remarkable performance on many tasks. However, despite the proliferation of such methods and their success, recent findings indicate that small, unnoticeable perturbations of graph structure can catastrophically reduce performance of even the strongest and most popular Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). Here, we develop GNNGuard, a general defense approach against a variety of training-time attacks that perturb the discrete graph structure. GNNGuard can be straightforwardly incorporated into any GNN. Its core principle is to detect and quantify the relationship between the graph structure and node features, if one exists, and then exploit that relationship to mitigate the negative effects of the attack. GNNGuard learns how to best assign higher weights to edges connecting similar nodes while pruning edges between unrelated nodes. The revised edges then allow the underlying GNN to robustly propagate neural messages in the graph. GNNGuard introduces two novel components, the neighbor importance estimation, and the layer-wise graph memory, and we show empirically that both components are necessary for a successful defense. Across five GNNs, three defense methods, and four datasets, including a challenging human disease graph, experiments show that GNNGuard outperforms existing defense approaches by 15.3% on average. Remarkably, GNNGuard can effectively restore state-of-the-art performance of GNNs in the face of various adversarial attacks, including targeted and non-targeted attacks, and can defend against attacks on heterophily graphs.