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GraphNorm: A Principled Approach to Accelerating Graph Neural Network Training

Tianle Cai · Shengjie Luo · Keyulu Xu · Di He · Tie-Yan Liu · Liwei Wang


Normalization is known to help the optimization of deep neural networks. Curiously, different architectures require specialized normalization methods. In this paper, we study what normalization is effective for Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). First, we adapt and evaluate the existing methods from other domains to GNNs. Faster convergence is achieved with InstanceNorm compared to BatchNorm and LayerNorm. We provide an explanation by showing that InstanceNorm serves as a preconditioner for GNNs, but such preconditioning effect is weaker with BatchNorm due to the heavy batch noise in graph datasets. Second, we show that the shift operation in InstanceNorm results in an expressiveness degradation of GNNs for highly regular graphs. We address this issue by proposing GraphNorm with a learnable shift. Empirically, GNNs with GraphNorm converge faster compared to GNNs using other normalization. GraphNorm also improves the generalization of GNNs, achieving better performance on graph classification benchmarks.

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