Classic decision tree learning is a binary classification algorithm that constructs models with first-class transparency - every classification has a directly derivable explanation. However, learning decision trees on modern datasets generates large trees, which in turn generate decision paths of excessive depth, obscuring the explanation of classifications. To improve the comprehensibility of classifications, we propose a new decision tree model that we call Cascading Decision Trees. Cascading Decision Trees shorten the size of explanations of classifications, without sacrificing model performance overall. Our key insight is to separate the notion of a decision path and an explanation path. Utilizing this insight, instead of having one monolithic decision tree, we build several smaller decision subtrees and cascade them in sequence. Our cascading decision subtrees are designed to specifically target explanations for positive classifications. This way each subtree identifies the smallest set of features that can classify as many positive samples as possible, without misclassifying any negative samples. Applying cascading decision trees to new samples results in a significantly shorter and succinct explanation, if one of the subtrees detects a positive classification. In that case, we immediately stop and report the decision path of only the current subtree to the user as an explanation for the classification. We evaluate our algorithm on standard datasets, as well as new real-world applications and find that our model shortens the explanation depth by over 40.8% for positive classifications compared to the classic decision tree model.
Understanding how "black-box" models arrive at their predictions has sparked significant interest from both within and outside the AI community. Our work focuses on doing this by generating local explanations about individual predictions for tree-based ensembles, specifically Gradient Boosting Decision Trees (GBDTs). Given a correctly predicted instance in the training set, we wish to generate a counterfactual explanation for this instance, that is, the minimal perturbation of this instance such that the prediction flips to the opposite class. Most existing methods for counterfactual explanations are (1) model-agnostic, so they do not take into account the structure of the original model, and/or (2) involve building a surrogate model on top of the original model, which is not guaranteed to represent the original model accurately. There exists a method specifically for random forests; we wish to extend this method for GBDTs. This involves accounting for (1) the sequential dependency between trees and (2) training on the negative gradients instead of the original labels.
Existing and planned legislation stipulates various obligations to provide information about machine learning algorithms and their functioning, often interpreted as obligations to "explain". Many researchers suggest using post-hoc explanation algorithms for this purpose. In this paper, we combine legal, philosophical and technical arguments to show that post-hoc explanation algorithms are unsuitable to achieve the law's objectives. Indeed, most situations where explanations are requested are adversarial, meaning that the explanation provider and receiver have opposing interests and incentives, so that the provider might manipulate the explanation for her own ends. We show that this fundamental conflict cannot be resolved because of the high degree of ambiguity of post-hoc explanations in realistic application scenarios. As a consequence, post-hoc explanation algorithms are unsuitable to achieve the transparency objectives inherent to the legal norms. Instead, there is a need to more explicitly discuss the objectives underlying "explainability" obligations as these can often be better achieved through other mechanisms. There is an urgent need for a more open and honest discussion regarding the potential and limitations of post-hoc explanations in adversarial contexts, in particular in light of the current negotiations about the European Union's draft Artificial Intelligence Act.
Decision lists are one of the most easily explainable machine learning models. Given the renewed emphasis on explainable machine learning decisions, this machine learning model is increasingly attractive, combining small size and clear explainability. In this paper, we show for the first time how to construct optimal "perfect" decision lists which are perfectly accurate on the training data, and minimal in size, making use of modern SAT solving technology. We also give a new method for determining optimal sparse decision lists, which trade off size and accuracy. We contrast the size and test accuracy of optimal decisions lists versus optimal decision sets, as well as other state-of-the-art methods for determining optimal decision lists. We also examine the size of average explanations generated by decision sets and decision lists.
Explaining decisions of deep neural networks is a hot research topic with applications in medical imaging, video surveillance, and self driving cars. Many methods have been proposed in literature to explain these decisions by identifying relevance of different pixels. In this paper, we propose a method that can generate contrastive explanations for such data where we not only highlight aspects that are in themselves sufficient to justify the classification by the deep model, but also new aspects which if added will change the classification. One of our key contributions is how we define "addition" for such rich data in a formal yet humanly interpretable way that leads to meaningful results. This was one of the open questions laid out in Dhurandhar et.al. (2018) , which proposed a general framework for creating (local) contrastive explanations for deep models. We showcase the efficacy of our approach on CelebA and Fashion-MNIST in creating intuitive explanations that are also quantitatively superior compared with other state-of-the-art interpretability methods.