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Workshop: New Frontiers in Graph Learning (GLFrontiers)

Talk like a Graph: Encoding Graphs for Large Language Models

Bahare Fatemi · Jonathan Halcrow · Bryan Perozzi

Keywords: [ graph reasoning ] [ Large language models ] [ encoding graphs ] [ Generative Models ]


Graphs are a powerful tool for representing and analyzing complex relationships in real-world applications such as social networks, recommender systems, and computational finance. Reasoning on graphs is essential for drawing inferences about the relationships between entities in a complex system, and to identify hidden patterns and trends. Despite the remarkable progress in automated reasoning with natural text, reasoning on graphs with large language models (LLMs) remains an understudied problem. In this work, we perform the first comprehensive study of encoding graph-structured data as text for consumption by LLMs. We show that LLM performance on graph reasoning tasks varies on three fundamental levels: (1) the graph encoding method, (2) the nature of the graph task itself, and (3) interestingly, the very structure of the graph considered. These novel results provide valuable insight on strategies for encoding graphs as text. Using these insights we illustrate how the correct choice of encoders can boost performance on graph reasoning tasks inside LLMs by 4.8% to 61.8%, depending on the task.

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