Tackling Provably Hard Representative Selection via Graph Neural Networks

Hossein Esfandiari
Transactions on Machine Learning Research(2023)


Representative Selection (RS) is the problem of finding a small subset of exemplars from a dataset that is representative of the dataset. In this paper, we study RS for attributed graphs, and focus on finding representative nodes that optimize the accuracy of a model trained on the selected representatives. Theoretically, we establish a new hardness result for RS (in the absence of a graph structure) by proving that a particular, highly practical variant of it (RS for Learning) is hard to approximate in polynomial time within any reasonable factor, which implies a significant potential gap between the optimum solution of widely-used surrogate functions and the actual accuracy of the model. We then study the setting where a (homophilous) graph structure is available, or can be constructed, between the data points. We show that with an appropriate modeling approach, the presence of such a structure can turn a hard RS (for learning) problem into one that can be effectively solved. To this end, we develop RS-GNN, a representation learning-based RS model based on Graph Neural Networks. Empirically, we demonstrate the effectiveness of RS-GNN on problems with predefined graph structures as well as problems with graphs induced from node feature similarities, by showing that RS-GNN achieves significant improvements over established baselines on a suite of eight benchmarks.