Scalable deeper graph neural networks for high-performance materials property prediction

Machine learning (ML) based materials discovery has emerged as one of the most promising approaches for breakthroughs in materials science. While heuristic knowledge based descriptors have been combined with ML algorithms to achieve good performance, the complexity of the physicochemical mechanisms makes it urgently needed to exploit representation learning from either compositions or structures for building highly effective materials machine learning models. Among these methods, the graph neural networks have shown the best performance by its capability to learn high-level features from crystal structures. However, all these models suffer from their inability to scale up the models due to the over-smoothing issue of their message-passing GNN architecture. Here we propose a novel graph attention neural network model DeeperGATGNN with differentiable group normalization and skip-connections, which allows to train very deep graph neural network models (e.g. 30 layers compared to 3-9 layers in previous works). Through systematic benchmark studies over six benchmark datasets for energy and band gap predictions, we show that our scalable DeeperGATGNN model needs little costly hyper-parameter tuning for different datasets and achieves the state-of-the-art prediction performances over five properties out of six with up to 10\% improvement. Our work shows that to deal with the high complexity of mapping the crystal materials structures to their properties, large-scale very deep graph neural networks are needed to achieve robust performances.

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