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Generative Causal Explanations for Graph Neural Networks

Wanyu Lin · Hao Lan · Baochun Li


Keywords: [ Social Aspects of Machine Learning ] [ Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency ]

Abstract: This paper presents {\em Gem}, a model-agnostic approach for providing interpretable explanations for any GNNs on various graph learning tasks. Specifically, we formulate the problem of providing explanations for the decisions of GNNs as a causal learning task. Then we train a causal explanation model equipped with a loss function based on Granger causality. Different from existing explainers for GNNs, {\em Gem} explains GNNs on graph-structured data from a causal perspective. It has better generalization ability as it has no requirements on the internal structure of the GNNs or prior knowledge on the graph learning tasks. In addition, {\em Gem}, once trained, can be used to explain the target GNN very quickly. Our theoretical analysis shows that several recent explainers fall into a unified framework of {\em additive feature attribution methods}. Experimental results on synthetic and real-world datasets show that {\em Gem} achieves a relative increase of the explanation accuracy by up to $30\%$ and speeds up the explanation process by up to $110\times$ as compared to its state-of-the-art alternatives.

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