Metagraph-based learning on heterogeneous graphs

Yuan Fang, Wenqing Lin, Vincent W. Zheng, Min Wu, Jiaqi Shi, Kevin Chen Chuan Chang, Xiao Li Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Data in the form of graphs are prevalent, ranging from biological and social networks to citation graphs and the Web. In particular, most real-world graphs are heterogeneous, containing objects of multiple types, which present new opportunities for many problems on graphs. Consider a typical proximity search problem on graphs, which boils down to measuring the proximity between two given nodes. Most earlier studies on homogeneous or bipartite graphs only measure a generic form of proximity, without accounting for different 'semantic classes' - for instance, on a social network two users can be close for different reasons, such as being classmates or family members, which represent two distinct semantic classes. Learning these semantic classes are made possible on heterogeneous graphs through the concept of metagraphs. In this study, we identify metagraphs as a novel and effective means to characterize the common structures for a desired class of proximity. Subsequently, we propose a family of metagraph-based proximity, and employ a learning-to-rank technique that automatically learns the right parameters to suit the desired semantic class. In terms of efficiency, we develop a symmetry-based matching algorithm to speed up the computation of metagraph instances. Empirically, extensive experiments reveal that our metagraph-based proximity substantially outperforms the best competitor by more than 10 percent, and our matching algorithm can reduce matching time by more than half. As a further generalization, we aim to derive a general node and edge representation for heterogeneous graphs, in order to support arbitrary machine learning tasks beyond proximity search. In particular, we propose the finer-grained anchored metagraph, which is capable of discriminating the roles of nodes within the same metagraph. Finally, further experiments on the general representation show that we can outperform the state of the art significantly and consistently across various machine learning tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8744385
Pages (from-to)154-168
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Semantic proximity search
  • graph mining
  • heterogeneous graph representation
  • meta-structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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