Hierarchical interpretations for neural network predictions

Chandan Singh, W. James Murdoch, Bin Yu

Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Deep neural networks (DNNs) have achieved impressive predictive performance due to their ability to learn complex, non-linear relationships between variables. However, the inability to effectively visualize these relationships has led to DNNs being characterized as black boxes and consequently limited their applications. To ameliorate this problem, we introduce the use of hierarchical interpretations to explain DNN predictions through our proposed method: agglomerative contextual decomposition (ACD). Given a prediction from a trained DNN, ACD produces a hierarchical clustering of the input features, along with the contribution of each cluster to the final prediction. This hierarchy is optimized to identify clusters of features that the DNN learned are predictive. We introduce ACD using examples from Stanford Sentiment Treebank and ImageNet, in order to diagnose incorrect predictions, identify dataset bias, and extract polarizing phrases of varying lengths. Through human experiments, we demonstrate that ACD enables users both to identify the more accurate of two DNNs and to better trust a DNN's outputs. We also find that ACD's hierarchy is largely robust to adversarial perturbations, implying that it captures fundamental aspects of the input and ignores spurious noise.
  • Keywords: interpretability, natural language processing, computer vision
  • TL;DR: We introduce and validate hierarchical local interpretations, the first technique to automatically search for and display important interactions for individual predictions made by LSTMs and CNNs.
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