Abstract: Network embedding plays a significant role in a variety of applications. To capture the topology of the network, most of the existing network embedding algorithms follow a sampling training procedure, which maximizes the similarity (e.g., embedding vectors' dot product) between positively sampled node pairs and minimizes the similarity between negatively sampled node pairs in the embedding space. Typically, close node pairs function as positive samples while distant node pairs are usually considered as negative samples. However, under different or even competing sampling strategies, some methods champion sampling distant node pairs as positive samples to encapsulate longer distance information in link prediction, whereas others advocate adding close nodes into the negative sample set to boost the performance of node recommendation. In this paper, we seek to understand the intrinsic relationships between these competing strategies. To this end, we identify two properties (discrimination and monotonicity) that given any node pair proximity distribution, node embeddings should embrace.Moreover, we quantify the empirical error of the trained similarity score w.r.t. the sampling strategy, which leads to an important finding that the discrimination property and the monotonicity property for all node pairs can not be satisfied simultaneously in real-world applications. Guided by such analysis, a simple yet novel model (SENSEI) is proposed, which seamlessly fulfills the discrimination property and the partial monotonicity within the top-$K$ ranking list. Extensive experiments show that SENSEI outperforms the state-of-the-arts in plain network embedding.
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