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  1. Many applications of machine learning require a model to make accurate predictions on test examples that are distributionally different from training ones, while task-specific labels are scarce during training. An effective approach to this challenge is to pre-train a model on related tasks where data is abundant, and then fine-tune it on a downstream task of interest. While pre-training has been effective in many language and vision domains, it remains an open question how to effectively use pre-training on graph datasets. In this paper, we develop a new strategy and self-supervised methods for pre-training Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). The key to the success of our strategy is to pre-train an expressive GNN at the level of individual nodes as well as entire graphs so that the GNN can learn useful local and global representations simultaneously. We systematically study pre-training on multiple graph classification datasets. We find that naïve strategies, which pre-train GNNs at the level of either entire graphs or individual nodes, give limited improvement and can even lead to negative transfer on many downstream tasks. In contrast, our strategy avoids negative transfer and improves generalization significantly across downstream tasks, leading up to 9.4% absolute improvements in ROC-AUC over non-pre-trained models and achieving state-of-the-art performance for molecular property prediction and protein function prediction. 
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  2. Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are a powerful tool for machine learning on graphs. GNNs combine node feature information with the graph structure by recursively passing neural messages along edges of the input graph. However, incorporating both graph structure and feature information leads to complex models and explaining predictions made by GNNs remains unsolved. Here we propose GNNEXPLAINER, the first general, model-agnostic approach for providing interpretable explanations for predictions of any GNN-based model on any graph-based machine learning task. Given an instance, GNNEXPLAINER identifies a compact subgraph structure and a small subset of node features that have a crucial role in GNN’s prediction. Further, GNNEXPLAINER can generate consistent and concise explanations for an entire class of instances. We formulate GNNEXPLAINER as an optimization task that maximizes the mutual information between a GNN’s prediction and distribution of possible subgraph structures. Experiments on synthetic and real-world graphs show that our approach can identify important graph structures as well as node features, and outperforms alternative baseline approaches by up to 43.0% in explanation accuracy. GNNEXPLAINER provides a variety of benefits, from the ability to visualize semantically relevant structures to interpretability, to giving insights into errors of faulty GNNs. 
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