Graph Neural Networks for Communication Networks: Context, Use Cases and Opportunities

Graph neural networks (GNN) have shown outstanding applications in many fields where data is fundamentally represented as graphs (e.g., chemistry, biology, recommendation systems). In this vein, communication networks comprise many fundamental components that are naturally represented in a graph-structured manner (e.g., topology, configurations, traffic flows). This position article presents GNNs as a fundamental tool for modeling, control and management of communication networks. GNNs represent a new generation of data-driven models that can accurately learn and reproduce the complex behaviors behind real networks. As a result, such models can be applied to a wide variety of networking use cases, such as planning, online optimization, or troubleshooting. The main advantage of GNNs over traditional neural networks lies in its unprecedented generalization capabilities when applied to other networks and configurations unseen during training, which is a critical feature for achieving practical data-driven solutions for networking. This article comprises a brief tutorial on GNNs and their possible applications to communication networks. To showcase the potential of this technology, we present two use cases with state-of-the-art GNN models respectively applied to wired and wireless networks. Lastly, we delve into the key open challenges and opportunities yet to be explored in this novel research area.

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