An Empirical Study of Graph Contrastive Learning

Part of Proceedings of the Neural Information Processing Systems Track on Datasets and Benchmarks 1 (NeurIPS Datasets and Benchmarks 2021) round2

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Yanqiao Zhu, Yichen Xu, Qiang Liu, Shu Wu


Graph Contrastive Learning (GCL) establishes a new paradigm for learning graph representations without human annotations. Although remarkable progress has been witnessed recently, the success behind GCL is still left somewhat mysterious. In this work, we first identify several critical design considerations within a general GCL paradigm, including augmentation functions, contrasting modes, contrastive objectives, and negative mining strategies. Then, to understand the interplay of different GCL components, we conduct comprehensive, controlled experiments over benchmark tasks on datasets across various domains. Our empirical studies suggest a set of general receipts for effective GCL, e.g., simple topology augmentations that produce sparse graph views bring promising performance improvements; contrasting modes should be aligned with the granularities of end tasks. In addition, to foster future research and ease the implementation of GCL algorithms, we develop an easy-to-use library PyGCL, featuring modularized CL components, standardized evaluation, and experiment management. We envision this work to provide useful empirical evidence of effective GCL algorithms and offer several insights for future research.