A Holistic Approach to Unifying Automatic Concept Extraction and Concept Importance Estimation

Published: 21 Sept 2023, Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023NeurIPS 2023 spotlightEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: Explainable AI, Concept-based explainability, Interpretability, Concept extraction, Concept importance, Attribution methods
TL;DR: We introduce a new framework that unifies all existing concept based explainability methods
Abstract: In recent years, concept-based approaches have emerged as some of the most promising explainability methods to help us interpret the decisions of Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs). These methods seek to discover intelligible visual ``concepts'' buried within the complex patterns of ANN activations in two key steps: (1) concept extraction followed by (2) importance estimation. While these two steps are shared across methods, they all differ in their specific implementations. Here, we introduce a unifying theoretical framework that recast the first step -- concept extraction problem -- as a special case of **dictionary learning**, and we formalize the second step -- concept importance estimation -- as a more general form of **attribution method**. This framework offers several advantages as it allows us: (i) to propose new evaluation metrics for comparing different concept extraction approaches; (ii) to leverage modern attribution methods and evaluation metrics to extend and systematically evaluate state-of-the-art concept-based approaches and importance estimation techniques; (iii) to derive theoretical guarantees regarding the optimality of such methods. We further leverage our framework to try to tackle a crucial question in explainability: how to *efficiently* identify clusters of data points that are classified based on a similar shared strategy. To illustrate these findings and to highlight the main strategies of a model, we introduce a visual representation called the strategic cluster graph. Finally, we present Lens, a dedicated website that offers a complete compilation of these visualizations for all classes of the ImageNet dataset.
Supplementary Material: pdf
Submission Number: 1286