Graph Neural Networks Including Sparse Interpretability

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are versatile, powerful machine learning methods that enable graph structure and feature representation learning, and have applications across many domains. For applications critically requiring interpretation, attention-based GNNs have been leveraged. However, these approaches either rely on specific model architectures or lack a joint consideration of graph structure and node features in their interpretation. Here we present a model-agnostic framework for interpreting important graph structure and node features, Graph neural networks Including SparSe inTerpretability (GISST). With any GNN model, GISST combines an attention mechanism and sparsity regularization to yield an important subgraph and node feature subset related to any graph-based task. Through a single self-attention layer, a GISST model learns an importance probability for each node feature and edge in the input graph. By including these importance probabilities in the model loss function, the probabilities are optimized end-to-end and tied to the task-specific performance. Furthermore, GISST sparsifies these importance probabilities with entropy and L1 regularization to reduce noise in the input graph topology and node features. Our GISST models achieve superior node feature and edge explanation precision in synthetic datasets, as compared to alternative interpretation approaches. Moreover, our GISST models are able to identify important graph structure in real-world datasets. We demonstrate in theory that edge feature importance and multiple edge types can be considered by incorporating them into the GISST edge probability computation. By jointly accounting for topology, node features, and edge features, GISST inherently provides simple and relevant interpretations for any GNN models and tasks.

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