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Unleashing the Power of Graph Data Augmentation on Covariate Distribution Shift

Yongduo Sui · Qitian Wu · Jiancan Wu · Qing Cui · Longfei Li · Jun Zhou · Xiang Wang · Xiangnan He

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #632


The issue of distribution shifts is emerging as a critical concern in graph representation learning. From the perspective of invariant learning and stable learning, a recently well-established paradigm for out-of-distribution generalization, stable features of the graph are assumed to causally determine labels, while environmental features tend to be unstable and can lead to the two primary types of distribution shifts. The correlation shift is often caused by the spurious correlation between environmental features and labels that differs between the training and test data; the covariate shift often stems from the presence of new environmental features in test data. However, most strategies, such as invariant learning or graph augmentation, typically struggle with limited training environments or perturbed stable features, thus exposing limitations in handling the problem of covariate shift. To address this challenge, we propose a simple-yet-effective data augmentation strategy, Adversarial Invariant Augmentation (AIA), to handle the covariate shift on graphs. Specifically, given the training data, AIA aims to extrapolate and generate new environments, while concurrently preserving the original stable features during the augmentation process. Such a design equips the graph classification model with an enhanced capability to identify stable features in new environments, thereby effectively tackling the covariate shift in data. Extensive experiments with in-depth empirical analysis demonstrate the superiority of our approach. The implementation codes are publicly available at

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