Graphs naturally appear in numerous application domains, ranging from social analysis, bioinformatics to computer vision. The unique capability of graphs enables capturing the structural relations among data, and thus allows to harvest more insights compared to analyzing data in isolation. However, it is often very challenging to solve the learning problems on graphs, because (1) many types of data are not originally structured as graphs, such as images and text data, and (2) for graph-structured data, the underlying connectivity patterns are often complex and diverse. On the other hand, the representation learning has achieved great successes in many areas. Thereby, a potential solution is to learn the representation of graphs in a low-dimensional Euclidean space, such that the graph properties can be preserved. Although tremendous efforts have been made to address the graph representation learning problem, many of them still suffer from their shallow learning mechanisms. Deep learning models on graphs (e.g., graph neural networks) have recently emerged in machine learning and other related areas, and demonstrated the superior performance in various problems. In this survey, despite numerous types of graph neural networks, we conduct a comprehensive review specifically on the emerging field of graph convolutional networks, which is one of the most prominent graph deep learning models. First, we group the existing graph convolutional network models into two categories based on the types of convolutions and highlight some graph convolutional network models in details. Then, we categorize different graph convolutional networks according to the areas of their applications. Finally, we present several open challenges in this area and discuss potential directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
JournalComputational Social Networks
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Aggregation mechanism
  • Deep learning
  • Graph convolutional networks
  • Graph representation learning
  • Spatial methods
  • Spectral methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


Dive into the research topics of 'Graph convolutional networks: a comprehensive review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this