On the Generalization Capability of Temporal Graph Learning Algorithms: Theoretical Insights and a Simpler Method


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Temporal Graph Learning (TGL) has become a prevalent technique across diverse real-world applications, especially in domains where data can be represented as a graph and evolves over time. Although TGL has recently seen notable progress in algorithmic solutions, its theoretical foundations remain largely unexplored. This paper aims at bridging this gap by investigating the generalization ability of different TGL algorithms (e.g., GNN-based, RNN-based, and memory-based methods) under the finite-wide over-parameterized regime. We establish the connection between the generalization error of TGL algorithms and "the number of layers/steps" in the GNN-/RNN-based TGL methods and "the feature-label alignment (FLA) score", where FLA can be used as a proxy for the expressive power and explains the performance of memory-based methods. Guided by our theoretical analysis, we propose Simplified-Temporal-Graph-Network, which enjoys a small generalization error, improved overall performance, and lower model complexity. Extensive experiments on real-world datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our method. Our theoretical findings and proposed algorithm offer essential insights into TGL from a theoretical standpoint, laying the groundwork for the designing practical TGL algorithms in future studies.
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