Learning Graphons via Structured Gromov-Wasserstein Barycenters

Hongteng Xu, Dixin Luo, Lawrence Carin, Hongyuan Zha

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We propose a novel and principled method to learn a nonparametric graph model called graphon, which is defined in an infinite-dimensional space and represents arbitrary-size graphs. Based on the weak regularity lemma from the theory of graphons, we leverage a step function to approximate a graphon. We show that the cut distance of graphons can be relaxed to the Gromov-Wasserstein distance of their step functions. Accordingly, given a set of graphs generated by an underlying graphon, we learn the corresponding step function as the Gromov-Wasserstein barycenter of the given graphs. Furthermore, we develop several enhancements and extensions of the basic algorithm, $e.g.$, the smoothed Gromov-Wasserstein barycenter for guaranteeing the continuity of the learned graphons and the mixed Gromov-Wasserstein barycenters for learning multiple structured graphons. The proposed approach overcomes drawbacks of prior state-of-the-art methods, and outperforms them on both synthetic and real-world data. The code is available at https://github.com/HongtengXu/SGWB-Graphon.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Dec 10 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • cs.LG
  • cs.SI
  • stat.ML


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