ImGCL: Revisiting Graph Contrastive Learning on Imbalanced Node Classification

Graph contrastive learning (GCL) has attracted a surge of attention due to its superior performance for learning node/graph representations without labels. However, in practice, unlabeled nodes for the given graph usually follow an implicit imbalanced class distribution, where the majority of nodes belong to a small fraction of classes (a.k.a., head class) and the rest classes occupy only a few samples (a.k.a., tail classes). This highly imbalanced class distribution inevitably deteriorates the quality of learned node representations in GCL. Indeed, we empirically find that most state-of-the-art GCL methods exhibit poor performance on imbalanced node classification. Motivated by this observation, we propose a principled GCL framework on Imbalanced node classification (ImGCL), which automatically and adaptively balances the representation learned from GCL without knowing the labels. Our main inspiration is drawn from the recent progressively balanced sampling (PBS) method in the computer vision domain. We first introduce online clustering based PBS, which balances the training sets based on pseudo-labels obtained from learned representations. We then develop the node centrality based PBS method to better preserve the intrinsic structure of graphs, which highlight the important nodes of the given graph. Besides, we theoretically consolidate our method by proving that the classifier learned by balanced sampling without labels on an imbalanced dataset can converge to the optimal balanced classifier with a linear rate. Extensive experiments on multiple imbalanced graph datasets and imbalance settings verify the effectiveness of our proposed framework, which significantly improves the performance of the recent state-of-the-art GCL methods. Further experimental ablations and analysis show that the ImGCL framework remarkably improves the representations of nodes in tail classes.

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