Detecting Statistical Interactions from Neural Network Weights

Michael Tsang, Dehua Cheng, Yan Liu

Feb 15, 2018 (modified: Feb 28, 2018) ICLR 2018 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Interpreting neural networks is a crucial and challenging task in machine learning. In this paper, we develop a novel framework for detecting statistical interactions captured by a feedforward multilayer neural network by directly interpreting its learned weights. Depending on the desired interactions, our method can achieve significantly better or similar interaction detection performance compared to the state-of-the-art without searching an exponential solution space of possible interactions. We obtain this accuracy and efficiency by observing that interactions between input features are created by the non-additive effect of nonlinear activation functions, and that interacting paths are encoded in weight matrices. We demonstrate the performance of our method and the importance of discovered interactions via experimental results on both synthetic datasets and real-world application datasets.
  • TL;DR: We detect statistical interactions captured by a feedforward multilayer neural network by directly interpreting its learned weights.
  • Keywords: statistical interaction detection, multilayer perceptron, generalized additive model

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