Rethinking Graph Lottery Tickets: Graph Sparsity Matters

3 May 2023  ·  Bo Hui, Da Yan, Xiaolong Ma, Wei-Shinn Ku ·

Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (LTH) claims the existence of a winning ticket (i.e., a properly pruned sub-network together with original weight initialization) that can achieve competitive performance to the original dense network. A recent work, called UGS, extended LTH to prune graph neural networks (GNNs) for effectively accelerating GNN inference. UGS simultaneously prunes the graph adjacency matrix and the model weights using the same masking mechanism, but since the roles of the graph adjacency matrix and the weight matrices are very different, we find that their sparsifications lead to different performance characteristics. Specifically, we find that the performance of a sparsified GNN degrades significantly when the graph sparsity goes beyond a certain extent. Therefore, we propose two techniques to improve GNN performance when the graph sparsity is high. First, UGS prunes the adjacency matrix using a loss formulation which, however, does not properly involve all elements of the adjacency matrix; in contrast, we add a new auxiliary loss head to better guide the edge pruning by involving the entire adjacency matrix. Second, by regarding unfavorable graph sparsification as adversarial data perturbations, we formulate the pruning process as a min-max optimization problem to gain the robustness of lottery tickets when the graph sparsity is high. We further investigate the question: Can the "retrainable" winning ticket of a GNN be also effective for graph transferring learning? We call it the transferable graph lottery ticket (GLT) hypothesis. Extensive experiments were conducted which demonstrate the superiority of our proposed sparsification method over UGS, and which empirically verified our transferable GLT hypothesis.

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