Principles for Initialization and Architecture Selection in Graph Neural Networks with ReLU Activations

20 Jun 2023  ·  Gage DeZoort, Boris Hanin ·

This article derives and validates three principles for initialization and architecture selection in finite width graph neural networks (GNNs) with ReLU activations. First, we theoretically derive what is essentially the unique generalization to ReLU GNNs of the well-known He-initialization. Our initialization scheme guarantees that the average scale of network outputs and gradients remains order one at initialization. Second, we prove in finite width vanilla ReLU GNNs that oversmoothing is unavoidable at large depth when using fixed aggregation operator, regardless of initialization. We then prove that using residual aggregation operators, obtained by interpolating a fixed aggregation operator with the identity, provably alleviates oversmoothing at initialization. Finally, we show that the common practice of using residual connections with a fixup-type initialization provably avoids correlation collapse in final layer features at initialization. Through ablation studies we find that using the correct initialization, residual aggregation operators, and residual connections in the forward pass significantly and reliably speeds up early training dynamics in deep ReLU GNNs on a variety of tasks.

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