Mitigating Over-Smoothing and Over-Squashing using Augmentations of Forman-Ricci Curvature


While Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have been successfully leveraged for learning on graph-structured data across domains, several potential pitfalls have been described recently. Those include the inability to accurately leverage information encoded in long-range connections (over-squashing), as well as difficulties distinguishing the learned representations of nearby nodes with growing network depth (over-smoothing). An effective way to characterize both effects is discrete curvature: Long-range connections that underlie over-squashing effects have low curvature, whereas edges that contribute to over-smoothing have high curvature. This observation has given rise to rewiring techniques, which add or remove edges to mitigate over-smoothing and over-squashing. Several rewiring approaches utilizing graph characteristics, such as curvature or the spectrum of the graph Laplacian, have been proposed. However, existing methods, especially those based on curvature, often require expensive subroutines and careful hyperparameter tuning, which limits their applicability to large-scale graphs. Here we propose a rewiring technique based on Augmented Forman-Ricci curvature (AFRC), a scalable curvature notation, which can be computed in linear time. We prove that AFRC effectively characterizes over-smoothing and over-squashing effects in message-passing GNNs. We complement our theoretical results with experiments, which demonstrate that the proposed approach achieves state-of-the-art performance while significantly reducing the computational cost in comparison with other methods. Utilizing fundamental properties of discrete curvature, we propose effective heuristics for hyperparameters in curvature-based rewiring, which avoids expensive hyperparameter searches, further improving the scalability of the proposed approach.

Learning on Graphs