Skip to main content

Node Classification in Temporal Graphs Through Stochastic Sparsification and Temporal Structural Convolution

  • Conference paper
  • First Online:
Machine Learning and Knowledge Discovery in Databases (ECML PKDD 2020)


Node classification in temporal graphs aims to predict node labels based on historical observations. In real-world applications, temporal graphs are complex with both graph topology and node attributes evolving rapidly, which poses a high overfitting risk to existing graph learning approaches. In this paper, we propose a novel Temporal Structural Network (TSNet) model, which jointly learns temporal and structural features for node classification from the sparsified temporal graphs. We show that the proposed TSNet learns how to sparsify temporal graphs to favor the subsequent classification tasks and prevent overfitting from complex neighborhood structures. The effective local features are then extracted by simultaneous convolutions in temporal and spatial domains. Using the standard stochastic gradient descent and backpropagation techniques, TSNet iteratively optimizes sparsification and node representations for subsequent classification tasks. Experimental study on public benchmark datasets demonstrates the competitive performance of the proposed model in node classification. Besides, TSNet has the potential to help domain experts to interpret and visualize the learned models.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. 1.


  1. Adhikari, B., Zhang, Y., Amiri, S.E., Bharadwaj, A., Prakash, B.A.: Propagation-based temporal network summarization. IEEE Trans. Knowl. Data Eng. 30(4), 729–742 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bai, S., Kolter, J.Z., Koltun, V.: An empirical evaluation of generic convolutional and recurrent networks for sequence modeling. arXiv:1803.01271 (2018)

  3. Bruna, J., Zaremba, W., Szlam, A., LeCun, Y.: Spectral networks and locally connected networks on graphs. In: ICLR (2014)

    Google Scholar 

  4. Chen, J., Ma, T., Xiao, C.: Fastgcn: fast learning with graph convolutional networks via importance sampling. In: ICLR (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  5. Ching, A., Edunov, S., Kabiljo, M., Logothetis, D., Muthukrishnan, S.: One trillion edges: graph processing at facebook-scale. Proc. VLDB Endowment 8(12), 1804–1815 (2015)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Defferrard, M., Bresson, X., Vandergheynst, P.: Convolutional neural networks on graphs with fast localized spectral filtering. In: NIPS (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Eden, T., Jain, S., Pinar, A., Ron, D., Seshadhri, C.: Provable and practical approximations for the degree distribution using sublinear graph samples. In: WWW (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  8. Franceschi, L., Niepert, M., Pontil, M., He, X.: Learning discrete structures for graph neural networks. In: ICML (2019)

    Google Scholar 

  9. Ghalebi, E., Mirzasoleiman, B., Grosu, R., Leskovec, J.: Dynamic network model from partial observations. In: NIPS (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  10. Grover, A., Wang, E., Zweig, A., Ermon, S.: Stochastic optimization of sorting networks via continuous relaxations. In: ICLR (2019)

    Google Scholar 

  11. Hamilton, W., Ying, Z., Leskovec, J.: Inductive representation learning on large graphs. In: NIPS (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  12. Hübler, C., Kriegel, H.P., Borgwardt, K., Ghahramani, Z.: Metropolis algorithms for representative subgraph sampling. In: ICDM (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Kipf, T.N., Welling, M.: Semi-supervised classification with graph convolutional networks. In: ICLR (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Leskovec, J., Faloutsos, C.: Sampling from large graphs. In: KDD (2006)

    Google Scholar 

  15. Li, J., Cheng, K., Wu, L., Liu, H.: Streaming link prediction on dynamic attributed networks. In: WSDM (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  16. Liu, Y., Safavi, T., Dighe, A., Koutra, D.: Graph summarization methods andapplications: a survey. ACM Comput. Surv. 51(3), 1–34 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Loukas, A., Vandergheynst, P.: Spectrally approximating large graphs with smaller graphs. In: ICML (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  18. Ma, Y., Guo, Z., Ren, Z., Zhao, E., Tang, J., Yin, D.: Streaming graph neural networks. arXiv:1810.10627v2 (2019)

  19. Maiya, A.S., Berger-Wolf, T.Y.: Sampling community structure. In: WWW (2010)

    Google Scholar 

  20. Mathioudakis, M., Bonchi, F., Castillo, C., Gionis, A., Ukkonen, A.: Sparsification of influence networks. In: KDD (2011)

    Google Scholar 

  21. Perozzi, B., Al-Rfou, R., Skiena, S.: Deepwalk: online learning of social representations. In: KDD (2014)

    Google Scholar 

  22. Rong, Y., Huang, W., Xu, T., Huang, J.: Dropedge: towards deep graph convolutional networks on node classification. In: ICLR (2020)

    Google Scholar 

  23. Sadhanala, V., Wang, Y.X., Tibshirani, R.: Graph sparsification approaches for laplacian smoothing. In: AISTATS (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  24. Trivedi, R., Farajtabar, M., Biswal, P., Zha, H.: Dyrep: learning representations over dynamic graphs. In: ICLR (2019)

    Google Scholar 

  25. Veličković, P., Cucurull, G., Casanova, A., Romero, A., Liò, P., Bengio, Y.: Graph attention networks. In: ICLR (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  26. Wu, Z., Pan, S., Long, G., Jiang, J., Zhang, C.: Graph wavenet for deep spatial-temporal graph modeling. In: IJCAI (2019)

    Google Scholar 

  27. Xu, D., Cheng, W., Luo, D., Liu, X., Zhang, X.: Spatio-temporal attentive RNN for node classification in temporal attributed graphs. In: IJCAI, pp. 3947–3953 (2019)

    Google Scholar 

  28. Yan, S., Xiong, Y., Lin, D.: Spatial temporal graph convolutional networks for skeleton-based action recognition. In: AAAI (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  29. Yu, B., Yin, H., Zhu, Z.: Spatio-temporal graph convolutional networks: a deep learning framework for traffic forecasting. In: IJCAI (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  30. Yu, W., et al.: Learning deep network representations with adversarially regularized autoencoders. In: KDD (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  31. Zeng, H., Zhou, H., Srivastava, A., Kannan, R., Prasanna, V.: Graphsaint: graph sampling based inductive learning method. In: ICLR (2020)

    Google Scholar 

  32. Zhang, X., Tang, S., Zhao, Y., Wang, G., Zheng, H., Zhao, B.Y.: Cold hard e-cash: friends and vendors in the venmo digital payments system. In: ICWSM (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  33. Zheng, C., Zhang, Q., Long, G., Zhang, C., Young, S.D., Wang, W.: Measuring time-sensitive and topic-specific influence in social networks with lstm and self-attention. IEEE Access 8, 82481–82492 (2020)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Zheng, C., et al.: Robust graph representation learning via neural sparsification. In: ICML (2020)

    Google Scholar 

  35. Zhou, L.K., Yang, Y., Ren, X., Wu, F., Zhuang, Y.: Dynamic network embedding by modeling triadic closure process. In: AAAI (2018)

    Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading and insightful comments on our manuscript. The work was partially supported by NSF (DGE-1829071, IIS-2031187).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cheng Zheng .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this paper

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Zheng, C. et al. (2021). Node Classification in Temporal Graphs Through Stochastic Sparsification and Temporal Structural Convolution. In: Hutter, F., Kersting, K., Lijffijt, J., Valera, I. (eds) Machine Learning and Knowledge Discovery in Databases. ECML PKDD 2020. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 12459. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-67663-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-67664-3

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics