What is Graph Neural Networks? – Need, Applications, and More

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graph neural networks

What is Graph Neural Networks (GNN)?

Graph neural networks have tremendous expressive power and therefore attract a lot of attention in machine learning. Graphic neural networks refer to architectures of neural networks that operate on a graph.

The goal of a GNN is that each node of the graph learns an integration containing information about its neighborhood (nodes directly connected to the destination node via edges). Each node has an associated integration that defines the node in the data space. This integration can use for different problems like node labeling, node prediction, edge prediction, etc.

Therefore, after associating overlays with each node, we can convert the edges by adding direct-acting neural network layers and combining graphs and neural networks.

Need for Graph Neural Networks

The need to graph neural networks arose because much of the data we have is in an unstructured format. Unstructured data has not been processed or has a predefined design that makes it challenging to analyze. Examples of such data are audio, emails, and social media posts.

To make sense of this data and draw inferences from it, we need a structure that defines a relationship between these unstructured data points. Existing machine learning architectures and algorithms do not seem to work well with this type of data. The main advantages of graph neural networks are:

  • The graphical data structure has proven highly effective in the IT field while working with unstructured data.
  • Charts help define abstract concepts, such as relationships between entities. Since each node in the graph stipulates by its connections and neighbors, neural networks can capture relationships between nodes efficiently.
  • So, developing GNN to handle data such as social media data, which is unstructured, is an exciting fusion of graphics and machine learning with excellent potential.

Real Applications of Graph Neural Networks

graph neural networks

Newly introduced in 2018, GNNs still have many real-world applications as their architecture resonates with variable data collected from various sources. Currently, GNNs has been a hot topic for:

Social Media Analysis: It predicts similar posts, forecasts tags, and content recommendations to users.

Natural Sciences: GNNs have also gained popularity in the treatment of molecular interactions such as protein-protein interactions.

Recommendation Systems: A heterogeneous graph can capture the relationships between users and items to recommend relevant articles to a buyer.

Types of Graph Neural Networks

graph neural networks

Charts are used with various existing neural network architectures to produce promising results for various machine learning problems. The two most dominant networks briefly discuss below.

1. Graph Convolutional Networks (GCN)

Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) are widely used for image classification and segmentation problems. The convolutional operation refers to applying a spatial filter to the input image and obtaining a feature map accordingly.

GCNs refer to applying a spatial motion filter on the nodes of the graph containing overlays or relevant data for each node to represent each node’s characteristics. A series of convolutional layers can also stack like a standard CNN to incorporate information from more prominent neighborhoods.

2. Graph Automatic Encoder Networks

Automatic encoders are neural networks that consist of two networks combined through a bottleneck layer: an encoder. This reduces the input by passing it through convolutional filters to represent the compact features of the ‘image and a decoder that takes the picture provided by the encoder as input and tries to reconstruct the feedback based on it.

Automatic graphics encoders try to learn a compact representation of the graphic and then reconstruct the graphic using the decoder. Therefore, they can learn chart embeddings, predict invisible node embeddings and classify newer nodes into existing categories within the chart.

Other types of graphical neural networks also develop, such as spatial and temporal visual neural networks, generative graphical neural networks, recurrent graphical neural networks, etc.


In this article, we take a journey to understand graph neural networks. Graphical neural networks are an intuitive solution to making sense of unstructured data and are valid for many real-world applications. We also learned how to create charts from scratch with a library called NetworkX. The construction of an efficient graph influences the output of the network.

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