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Preserving Causal Constraints in Counterfactual Explanations for Machine Learning Classifiers

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Explaining the output of a complex machine learning (ML) model often requires approximation using a simpler model. To construct interpretable explanations that are also consistent with the original ML model, counterfactual examples --- showing how the model's output changes with small perturbations to the input --- have been proposed. This paper extends the work in counterfactual explanations by addressing the challenge of feasibility of such examples. For explanations of ML models in critical domains such as healthcare, finance, etc, counterfactual examples are useful for an end-user only to the extent that perturbation of feature inputs is feasible in the real world. We formulate the problem of feasibility as preserving causal relationships among input features and present a method that uses (partial) structural causal models to generate actionable counterfactuals. When feasibility constraints may not be easily expressed, we propose an alternative method that optimizes for feasibility as people interact with its output and provide oracle-like feedback. Our experiments on a Bayesian network and the widely used "Adult" dataset show that our proposed methods can generate counterfactual explanations that satisfy feasibility constraints.


Causality Learning: A New Perspective for Interpretable Machine Learning

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Recent years have witnessed the rapid growth of machine learning in a wide range of fields such as image recognition, text classification, credit scoring prediction, recommendation system, etc. In spite of their great performance in different sectors, researchers still concern about the mechanism under any machine learning (ML) techniques that are inherently black-box and becoming more complex to achieve higher accuracy. Therefore, interpreting machine learning model is currently a mainstream topic in the research community. However, the traditional interpretable machine learning focuses on the association instead of the causality. This paper provides an overview of causal analysis with the fundamental background and key concepts, and then summarizes most recent causal approaches for interpretable machine learning. The evaluation techniques for assessing method quality, and open problems in causal interpretability are also discussed in this paper.


AdViCE: Aggregated Visual Counterfactual Explanations for Machine Learning Model Validation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Rapid improvements in the performance of machine learning models have pushed them to the forefront of data-driven decision-making. Meanwhile, the increased integration of these models into various application domains has further highlighted the need for greater interpretability and transparency. To identify problems such as bias, overfitting, and incorrect correlations, data scientists require tools that explain the mechanisms with which these model decisions are made. In this paper we introduce AdViCE, a visual analytics tool that aims to guide users in black-box model debugging and validation. The solution rests on two main visual user interface innovations: (1) an interactive visualization design that enables the comparison of decisions on user-defined data subsets; (2) an algorithm and visual design to compute and visualize counterfactual explanations - explanations that depict model outcomes when data features are perturbed from their original values. We provide a demonstration of the tool through a use case that showcases the capabilities and potential limitations of the proposed approach.


The Dangers of Post-hoc Interpretability: Unjustified Counterfactual Explanations

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Post-hoc interpretability approaches have been proven to be powerful tools to generate explanations for the predictions made by a trained black-box model. However, they create the risk of having explanations that are a result of some artifacts learned by the model instead of actual knowledge from the data. This paper focuses on the case of counterfactual explanations and asks whether the generated instances can be justified, i.e. continuously connected to some ground-truth data. We evaluate the risk of generating unjustified counterfactual examples by investigating the local neighborhoods of instances whose predictions are to be explained and show that this risk is quite high for several datasets. Furthermore, we show that most state of the art approaches do not differentiate justified from unjustified counterfactual examples, leading to less useful explanations.


Counterfactual Instances Explain Little

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

In many applications, it is important to be able to explain the decisions of machine learning systems. An increasingly popular approach has been to seek to provide \emph{counterfactual instance explanations}. These specify close possible worlds in which, contrary to the facts, a person receives their desired decision from the machine learning system. This paper will draw on literature from the philosophy of science to argue that a satisfactory explanation must consist of both counterfactual instances and a causal equation (or system of equations) that support the counterfactual instances. We will show that counterfactual instances by themselves explain little. We will further illustrate how explainable AI methods that provide both causal equations and counterfactual instances can successfully explain machine learning predictions.