Causally-guided Regularization of Graph Attention Improves Generalizability

Published: 31 May 2023, Last Modified: 31 May 2023Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Abstract: Graph attention networks estimate the relational importance of node neighbors to aggregate relevant information over local neighborhoods for a prediction task. However, the inferred attentions are vulnerable to spurious correlations and connectivity in the training data, hampering the generalizability of models. We introduce CAR, a general-purpose regularization framework for graph attention networks. Embodying a causal inference approach based on invariance prediction, CAR aligns the attention mechanism with the causal effects of active interventions on graph connectivity in a scalable manner. CAR is compatible with a variety of graph attention architectures, and we show that it systematically improves generalizability on various node classification tasks. Our ablation studies indicate that CAR hones in on the aspects of graph structure most pertinent to the prediction (e.g., homophily), and does so more effectively than alternative approaches. Finally, we also show that \methodname enhances interpretability of attention coefficients by accentuating node-neighbor relations that point to causal hypotheses.
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
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Changes Since Last Submission: Our previous submission (#926) was desk rejected because we failed to compile the PDF without authorship information. We have since compiled it without the [preprint] directive. We apologize for this oversight.
Assigned Action Editor: ~Pin-Yu_Chen1
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Submission Number: 958