A Survey on Graph Counterfactual Explanations: Definitions, Methods, Evaluation

In recent years, Graph Neural Networks have reported outstanding performance in tasks like community detection, molecule classification and link prediction. However, the black-box nature of these models prevents their application in domains like health and finance, where understanding the models' decisions is essential. Counterfactual Explanations (CE) provide these understandings through examples. Moreover, the literature on CE is flourishing with novel explanation methods which are tailored to graph learning. In this survey, we analyse the existing Graph Counterfactual Explanation methods, by providing the reader with an organisation of the literature according to a uniform formal notation for definitions, datasets, and metrics, thus, simplifying potential comparisons w.r.t to the method advantages and disadvantages. We discussed seven methods and sixteen synthetic and real datasets providing details on the possible generation strategies. We highlight the most common evaluation strategies and formalise nine of the metrics used in the literature. We first introduce the evaluation framework GRETEL and how it is possible to extend and use it while providing a further dimension of comparison encompassing reproducibility aspects. Finally, we provide a discussion on how counterfactual explanation interplays with privacy and fairness, before delving into open challenges and future works.


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