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ProGCL: Rethinking Hard Negative Mining in Graph Contrastive Learning

Jun Xia · Lirong Wu · Wang Ge · Jintao Chen · Stan Z. Li

Hall E #408

Keywords: [ DL: Graph Neural Networks ]


Contrastive Learning (CL) has emerged as a dominant technique for unsupervised representation learning which embeds augmented versions of the anchor close to each other (positive samples) and pushes the embeddings of other samples (negatives) apart. As revealed in recent studies, CL can benefit from hard negatives (negatives that are most similar to the anchor). However, we observe limited benefits when we adopt existing hard negative mining techniques of other domains in Graph Contrastive Learning (GCL). We perform both experimental and theoretical analysis on this phenomenon and find it can be attributed to the message passing of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). Unlike CL in other domains, most hard negatives are potentially false negatives (negatives that share the same class with the anchor) if they are selected merely according to the similarities between anchor and themselves, which will undesirably push away the samples of the same class. To remedy this deficiency, we propose an effective method, dubbed \textbf{ProGCL}, to estimate the probability of a negative being true one, which constitutes a more suitable measure for negatives' hardness together with similarity. Additionally, we devise two schemes (i.e., \textbf{ProGCL-weight} and \textbf{ProGCL-mix}) to boost the performance of GCL. Extensive experiments demonstrate that ProGCL brings notable and consistent improvements over base GCL methods and yields multiple state-of-the-art results on several unsupervised benchmarks or even exceeds the performance of supervised ones. Also, ProGCL is readily pluggable into various negatives-based GCL methods for performance improvement. We release the code at \textcolor{magenta}\url{}.

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