Graph representation learning has revolutionized many artificial intelligence and machine learning tasks in recent years, ranging from combinatorial optimization, drug discovery, recommendation systems, image classification, social network analysis to natural language understanding. This paper shows their efficacy in modeling relationships between products and making predictions for unseen product networks. By representing products as nodes and their relationships as edges of a graph, we show how an inductive graph neural network approach, named GraphSAGE, can efficiently learn continuous representations for nodes and edges. These representations also capture product feature information such as price, brand, and engineering attributes. They are combined with a classification model for predicting the existence of a relationship between any two products. Using a case study of the Chinese car market, we find that our method yields double the F-1 score compared to an Exponential Random Graph Model-based method for predicting the co-consideration relationship between cars. While a vanilla Graph-SAGE requires a partial network to make predictions, we augment it with an ‘adjacency prediction model’ to circumvent this limitation. This enables us to predict product relationships when no neighborhood information is known. Finally, we demonstrate how a permutation-based interpretability analysis can provide insights on how design attributes impact the predictions of relationships between products. Overall, this work provides a systematic method to predict the relationships between products in a complex engineering system.

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