A Practical, Progressively-Expressive GNN

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Lingxiao Zhao, Neil Shah, Leman Akoglu


Message passing neural networks (MPNNs) have become a dominant flavor of graph neural networks (GNNs) in recent years. Yet, MPNNs come with notable limitations; namely, they are at most as powerful as the 1-dimensional Weisfeiler-Leman (1-WL) test in distinguishing graphs in a graph isomorphism testing frame-work. To this end, researchers have drawn inspiration from the k-WL hierarchy to develop more expressive GNNs. However, current k-WL-equivalent GNNs are not practical for even small values of k, as k-WL becomes combinatorially more complex as k grows. At the same time, several works have found great empirical success in graph learning tasks without highly expressive models, implying that chasing expressiveness with a “coarse-grained ruler” of expressivity like k-WL is often unneeded in practical tasks. To truly understand the expressiveness-complexity tradeoff, one desires a more “fine-grained ruler,” which can more gradually increase expressiveness. Our work puts forth such a proposal: Namely, we first propose the (k, c)(≤)-SETWL hierarchy with greatly reduced complexity from k-WL, achieved by moving from k-tuples of nodes to sets with ≤k nodes defined over ≤c connected components in the induced original graph. We show favorable theoretical results for this model in relation to k-WL, and concretize it via (k, c)(≤)-SETGNN, which is as expressive as (k, c)(≤)-SETWL. Our model is practical and progressively-expressive, increasing in power with k and c. We demonstrate effectiveness on several benchmark datasets, achieving several state-of-the-art results with runtime and memory usage applicable to practical graphs. We open source our implementation at https://github.com/LingxiaoShawn/KCSetGNN.