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Workshop: ICML Workshop on Human in the Loop Learning (HILL)

CF-GNNExplainer: Counterfactual Explanations for Graph Neural Networks

Ana Lucic · Maartje ter Hoeve · Gabriele Tolomei · Maarten de Rijke · Fabrizio Silvestri


Given the increasing promise of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) in real-world applications, several methods have been developed for explaining their predictions. So far, these methods have primarily focused on generating subgraphs that are especially relevant for a particular prediction. However, such methods do not provide a clear opportunity for recourse: given a prediction, we want to understand how the prediction can be changed in order to achieve a more desirable outcome. In this work, we propose a method for generating counterfactual (CF) explanations for GNNs: the minimal perturbation to the input (graph) data such that the prediction changes. Using only edge deletions, we find that our method can generate CF explanations for the majority of instances across three widely used datasets for GNN explanations, while removing less than 3 edges on average, with at least 94\% accuracy. This indicates that our method primarily removes edges that are crucial for the original predictions, resulting in minimal CF explanations.

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