GraphPatcher: Mitigating Degree Bias for Graph Neural Networks via Test-time Augmentation

Mingxuan Ju · Tong Zhao · Wenhao Yu · Neil Shah · Yanfang Ye

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #622
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Thu 14 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


Recent studies have shown that graph neural networks (GNNs) exhibit strong biases towards the node degree: they usually perform satisfactorily on high-degree nodes with rich neighbor information but struggle with low-degree nodes. Existing works tackle this problem by deriving either designated GNN architectures or training strategies specifically for low-degree nodes. Though effective, these approaches unintentionally create an artificial out-of-distribution scenario, where models mainly or even only observe low-degree nodes during the training, leading to a downgraded performance for high-degree nodes that GNNs originally perform well at. In light of this, we propose a test-time augmentation framework, namely GraphPatcher, to enhance test-time generalization of any GNNs on low-degree nodes. Specifically, GraphPatcher iteratively generates virtual nodes to patch artificially created low-degree nodes via corruptions, aiming at progressively reconstructing target GNN's predictions over a sequence of increasingly corrupted nodes. Through this scheme, GraphPatcher not only learns how to enhance low-degree nodes (when the neighborhoods are heavily corrupted) but also preserves the original superior performance of GNNs on high-degree nodes (when lightly corrupted). Additionally, GraphPatcher is model-agnostic and can also mitigate the degree bias for either self-supervised or supervised GNNs. Comprehensive experiments are conducted over seven benchmark datasets and GraphPatcher consistently enhances common GNNs' overall performance by up to 3.6% and low-degree performance by up to 6.5%, significantly outperforming state-of-the-art baselines. The source code is publicly available at

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