Keywords: Counterfactual explanations, algorithmic recourse, explainability
TL;DR: We propose a novel framework to generate probabilistically robust algorithmic recourse
Abstract: As machine learning models are increasingly being employed to make consequential decisions in real-world settings, it becomes critical to ensure that individuals who are adversely impacted (e.g., loan denied) by the predictions of these models are provided with a means for recourse. While several approaches have been proposed to construct recourses for affected individuals, the recourses output by these methods either achieve low costs (i.e., ease-of-implementation) or robustness to small perturbations (i.e., noisy implementations of recourses), but not both due to the inherent trade-offs between the recourse costs and robustness. Furthermore, prior approaches do not provide end users with any agency over navigating the aforementioned trade-offs. In this work, we address the above challenges by proposing the first algorithmic framework which enables users to effectively manage the recourse cost vs. robustness trade-offs. More specifically, our framework Probabilistically ROBust rEcourse (PROBE) lets users choose the probability with which a recourse could get invalidated (recourse invalidation rate) if small changes are made to the recourse i.e., the recourse is implemented somewhat noisily. To this end, we propose a novel objective function which simultaneously minimizes the gap between the achieved (resulting) and desired recourse invalidation rates, minimizes recourse costs, and also ensures that the resulting recourse achieves a positive model prediction. We develop novel theoretical results to characterize the recourse invalidation rates corresponding to any given instance w.r.t. different classes of underlying models (e.g., linear models, tree based models etc.), and leverage these results to efficiently optimize the proposed objective. Experimental evaluation with multiple real world datasets demonstrates the efficacy of the proposed framework.
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